Yorkshire’s obese ‘in denial about their health’

OBESE people are in denial about their weight and unaware of the potential risks of their lifestyle, a new study has found,


Yorkshire and the Humber has the highest level of overweight and obese adults in the country, according to new research by Aviva, but more than half are in denial about the state of their health.

Research out today showed that 56 per cent of adults in the region had an overweight or obese Body Mass Index (BMI). But 51 per cent said they were in good or excellent health, showing a “degree of denial” over their weight and the health issues it creates.

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Dr Doug Wright, medical director for Aviva UK Health, said, that although losing weight is the top health ambition for the UK, any plans to lead a healthier lifestyle “are being neglected under the pressures of modern living,” with people failing to exercise, not eating enough fruit and vegetables, and consuming large amounts of caffeine.

He said: “Being overweight brings with it the potential for serious health conditions, yet a significant proportion of those with high BMI levels are living in denial by claiming they are in very good health and showing no desire to lose weight.

“The risks to their health are well known, with weight-related conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and even some types of cancer.

“Many people are failing to grasp the real importance of taking control of their current and future health, by making changes to their diet and taking more exercise.”

Andrew Hill, professor of medical psychology at Leeds School of Medicine, said that while some may be in denial about their weight, it is the relationship between obesity and ill health in the future that people should be concerned about.

He said: “If you look at your BMI when you were 20, then 25, and then 30, and it keeps on going in an upwards trajectory, then you know you are slowly gaining weight and it is time to do something about it.”

Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said denial over weight issues was “very, very common”.

He said: “People really do not understand what is a healthy weight. We need to go back to square one are start monitoring children’s growth to make them aware of fat is and teach them about eating properly.”

He said the availability and cheapness of unhealthy food, combined with lack of exercise made it all to easy for families on a limited budget to gain weight - and they do not realise the damaging health impact of obesity.

“You could lose a leg or go blind from diabetes, or have kidney failure. There is a lack of knowledge. People might believe they are healthy but the only real way to find out is to have your BMI worked out every six months. If it falls above 25, go to see your GP and ask if you should be worried,” said Mr Fry.

The research once again put Yorkshire’s waistline under the spotlight. Figures released by Public Health England this month, showed 65.4 per cent of adults in the region were overweight or obese, higher than the national average.