As a nation we are continually being told that we are fat and getting fatter with two thirds of Australian adults now considered overweight or obese. This is no surprise when most of us are living a more sedentary lifestyle and eating more highly processed foods. While we might like to joke at the pub about our ‘6-pack turning into a keg’ there are some serious risks to our health and wellbeing if our panels are bulging. Carrying around extra weight increases our risk of chronic illnesses including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (pump and pipes), and some cancers including bowel, kidney, and thyroid. So, how do we determine if we are carrying around risky levels of excess fat?
Two of the main recognised methods are body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference. The BMI is a quick measure that compares our weight to our height. The BMI is a useful but not perfect measure because of its inability to distinguish fat mass from lean mass and the distribution of body fat. The waist circumference (measured from tummy button) is a good measure of the risks associated with excess weight because of its ability to indicate fat in the high-risk locations. It is well known that excess fat around our middle carries the risk of obesity related health issues due to its link to visceral fat (the dangerous fat that coats our internal organs). Due to hormonal differences, our stomach area is where blokes often store fat, as opposed to women where it often gets deposited on the hips and thighs.
In general, the risk thresholds for adult waist measurements are:
Keep in mind, this is a guide only and identifying risk should always involve a discussion with our GP about a holistic approach to our current health behaviours. If after gauging our guts we find that our panels are bulging, there are some simple steps we can all take to reduce that waistline:
- Move more – walking the dog or kicking the footy are good places to start and incorporates exercise into our daily lives.
- Choose smaller portion sizes – adopt an eating pattern where our food intake matches our calorie needs.
- Adopt a healthy diet – eat more fruit and veg, less junk food and sugary drinks.
- Limit alcohol intake – drink no more than two standard drinks per day, incorporate alcohol-free days and remember “low carb beer” isn’t necessarily low calorie!
Don’t be tempted by unsustainable “fad diets” that promise quick results and may involve eliminating foods that contain necessary fuel that our bodies need. Remember, we always need to consult our GP or other health professional (dietitian, physiotherapist etc.) if we plan on making substantial exercise or dietary changes.
For more men’s health and wellbeing information, check out our Working with Warriors® Podcast Series which was launched on the 19th June 2020 and is based on conversations around men’s wellbeing and health from our Working with Warriors® education sessions. The short podcasts, regarding a man’s approach to his wellbeing and health, are now available to listen to via our website or on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and numerous other podcast directories.
Tom and the Team
The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401
Phone: 08 9690 2277