Dieting experts in the UK have put together a list of 108 reasons that keep us fat and changes we can make to help us stay slim, but going to the gym once a week or going on a fad diet are not recommended.
The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) has compiled a “fat facts” guide called Small Changes: Big Gains to help change behaviour that can lead to obesity.
The BNF has divided our behaviour into 7 groups: social interaction, psychological pressures, eating and drinking, physical activity, our physiology, our environment and our use of TV, magazines and computers.
Negative peer pressure falls into the first category and can make us fatter as friends may make fun of our exercise habits or encourage us to eat less healthily.
Psychological pressures include using food as a reward and snacking when bored.
Using a remote control instead of manually changing TV channels can make us fatter, as can eating too quickly.
Some of us have genes that crave fatty food while other live stressful lives and don’t get enough sleep.
Pressure from the media to have a perfect figure, while at the same time being bombarded by fast food adverts is also unhelpful in managing a healthy lifestyle.
A senior nutritional scientist at the BNF, Bridget Benelam, told RT, “We live in an obesogenic environment, whereas 50 years ago most of us would have been on our feet all day, now we have to make an effort to be active”.
Benelam explains that what works for some people may not work for others, “we are all very different and the way that we behave in relation to external and internal stimuli varies considerably. We know that some people are genetically disposed to put on weight.”
Small changes we could make include snacking on fruit instead of biscuits, and even small movements while sitting such as tapping your foot can burn up to 350Kcals a day more than someone who is completely still. Office workers who walked around to talk to colleagues or make drinks were also found to burn more calories.
Benelam says there is no point in doing sport once a week or going on a one-off diet. “You need to get something into your daily life like cycling to work; they must be small changes for the long term that you can sustain.” She said.
Obesity is a growing problem in the UK, with 24% of the adult population either deemed obese or having diabetes problems. The disease has a strong link to being overweight. This is far greater than in the rest of Europe.
Benelam believes this may be to do with British food culture. “Like the US, the UK has developed a more eat-on-the-go culture, unlike France, where sitting down to a family meal is still important.” she said.
Obesity is a global problem and The World Health Organization predicts there will be 2.3 billion overweight adults in the world by 2015.