Energy balances
Overweight or obesity develops due to an imbalance between energy intake and energy output. If intake is higher than the output, a positive balance results leading to weight gain. Regular exercise and eating a balanced diet will help you to stay fit and burn more calories. Avoid fat diets that offer unrealistic results and encourage eating (or not eating) specific foods. Remember, if you lose weight gradually you are more likely to keep it off.

Healthy eating

  • Adopt a balanced diet including plenty of fruit and vegetables, whole grain products, low-fat and fat-free products (however take calories into account), unsaturated soft margarines and oils (such as sunflower, corn, rape-seed, olive), lean meat, fish and pulses
  • Restrict salt and sugar intake
  • Eat breakfast and make sure to have at least 3 meals per day
    Use healthier cooking methods such as steaming, boiling, grilling and baking instead of deep fat-frying and adding extra fat and develop healthy cooking skills within your family
  • Avoid buying sweets and junk food
  • Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day
  • Expect temptation, so plan healthy meals in advance

Regular exercise

  • For adults, even 30 minutes of brisk walking daily will help reduce your risk
  • Children should have 60 minutes of physical activity per day
  • Surround yourself and your family with supportive people who either participate with you or remind you to exercise
  • Decrease family television viewing and increase your involvement in regular family sports and activities

Are you an apple or a pear?
Your health is at risk not only by the amount of body fat you have, but also by where the fat is located. You have an apple shape if you tend to gain weight mostly in the waist (stomach) area. Pear-shaped figures tend to gain weight around the hips and buttocks. Apple shapes have an increased risk of heart disease - so they need to take extra care to maintain a healthy weight.

Measure your waist, measure your risk
Measure your waist just above your navel. If you are over 94 cm (37 inches) for a man and over 80 cm (32 inches) for a woman, you are considered at risk. 102 cm (40 inches) for a man and 88 cm (35 inches) for a woman means you are at even higher risk.

Body Mass Index
The Body Mass Index (BMI) is an indicator of your level of health relative to your height and weight:

BMI     =            weight (kilograms)        

             height (metres) x height (metres)

Standard Asian BMI guidelines for defining excess weight and determine level of risk

BMI (Kg/m2)


Risk Level

Less than 18.5


Low (but risk of other health problems (increase)

18.5 - 22.9



23.0 - 27.4



27.5 - 32.4


Mildly Increased

32.5 - 37.5


High moderate

More than 37.5

Morbidly obese

High very severe

What our bodies need the most!
Plant-based foods: cereals and grains, breads, vegetables, legumes and fruits

  • As part of any healthy eating plan it is particularly important to include mainly plant-based foods such as cereals, rice, pasta, bread, vegetables and fruits.
  • These are low in saturated fat, high in vitamins and minerals, and contain many other components helpful in fighting diseases such as heart disease and cancer.
  • Fruits and vegetables add lots of colour and texture to every recipe. All of us can enjoy fruit everyday - encourage children to have at least two pieces. Fruit makes a great snack on its own, or can be added to many recipes.
  • Baked beans are probably the most renowned of the legume family (a type of vegetable).
  • Legumes can make a quick, healthy meal or snack. Try other legumes such as dried peas in soups, lentils in casseroles, chickpeas in a patty or burger, or three-bean mix in a salad?
  • Breads, cereals and grains provide energy. It's easy to include variety from this group of foods. Try different breads: wholemeal, wholegrain, white, sourdough, light or dark rye.

Practical tips for weight loss:

  • The most important point to remember is that you are not on a 'diet', rather you are making a commitment to change your lifestyle and eating habits for the better and this will last you for the rest of your life
  • The best way to lose weight is to eat less and to cut back on the fat in your diet.
  • Avoid eating when you are not hungry and eating out of boredom or frustration.
  • Learn to listen to your body and eat only when your body tells you that it needs food.
  • Avoid snacking between meals. Stick to your 3 balanced meals per day and eat only fruit in between if really necessary.
  • Drink lots of water every day, drink a glass of water with each meal and also spread out through the day.
  • Base all your meals around high fibre starches (whole wheat), as these will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
  • Choose lower fat foods daily, as this will help you to reduce your total calorie input and thus help with weight reduction. Cook using low fat methods and avoid adding unnecessary oils and fats to your food.
  • It is very important to increase your level of physical activity. This will have many beneficial effects on your body and help to induce weight loss.
  • At each meal, reduce your portion sizes and use a smaller plate. Try not to overload your plate with food, dish up a smaller plate first time around and then if still hungry after the meal, have some more vegetable or salad.
  • Eat slowly and enjoy your food. Sit down at a table to eat and avoid eating with distractions.
  • Stop yourself from picking at food while you are cooking or clearing up. Only eat as part of a planned meal.
  • Avoid eating out too often or buying too many takeaway foods.
  • Cut down on your alcohol intake as alcohol is high in calories and provides no nutritional benefits to your body.
  • Cut down on sweets, chocolates, cakes, biscuits, cookies, chips, pastries and sugary drinks. These 'treats' often become habits and can lead to further weight gain.

Avoiding fat diets:
Generally these "magic" cures are expensive with only short-term results (weight is picked up again in the long term - often more than the original weight). With quick weight loss, it is usually not fat that is lost, but fluid and muscle mass.

Look for the following:
• Promises of large and rapid weight loss
• Short-term diet
• No exercise required
• Special garments or passive exercise machines involved
• Magical ingredients with special abilities to speed up metabolism
• Claims to eat as much as you like and still lose weight
• Combinations of specific foods are advocated
• The use of only one or two types of food
• An exotic range of expensive and unusual foods
• Special powders, pills and meal replacements
• Food replacements and vitamin/mineral supplements

These diets are usually very low in energy, causing the body's metabolism to slow down. The body has to then function on a lower food intake, creating the impression that it is being starved. As the metabolism slows down, the dietary intake also needs to be lowered to cause continuous weight loss, resulting in a slower weight loss or a complete stop. The dieter gets frustrated because the weight loss has slowed down, he/she feels hungry all the time and is simply bored with the diet. This then causes the person to stop following the diet and revert back to the previous way of eating. Additionally, these diets are nutritionally inadequate, very boring, are unscientifically based and usually require nutritional supplementation.

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