Are you inching towards bad health?

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With 60 percent of adults in Northern Ireland either overweight or obese, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is encouraging people to spot the signs that they may be inching towards bad health.

Measuring up is a quick and easy way to check, and as part of National Obesity Awareness Week (11-17 January) our experts are saying take out the tape measure and get to know your waistline.

“Many people don’t measure their waistline correctly as they’re unsure of where their waistline actually is,” Dr Tracy Owen, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the PHA, said.

“It’s not about the size of your trousers, it’s the distance around your abdomen at roughly the halfway point between the bottom of your ribs and top of your hips – the bellybutton can be used as a good point to do it from.

“Having a waistline of 37 inches or more for a man and 32 inches or more for a woman can put you at a greater risk of developing heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes. Your health could be at greater risk if you’re storing a lot of fat around your waist.

“We store excess body fat under the skin but also around our vital organs in the abdomen and having a large amount of tummy fat could make you more likely to develop heart problems or type 2 diabetes.”

Follow these steps to help you measure your waist correctly:

Get hold of a standard tape measure

Stand up straight and breathe out naturally

Find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips

Your waist is halfway between the two

Keep the tape measure snug around your waist and write down the result.

Dr Owen continued: “Now you know how to measure your waist, it’s time to start to shift the excess weight if you need to. What’s great is that all the advice you need can be found in the one place – – where there are tips on setting yourself realistic targets, advice on swapping unhealthy food for healthier options, 70 healthy recipe ideas, as well as tips on getting more active.

“The website also has a helpful video on measuring up correctly, as well as a Body Mass Index calculator which helps you tell whether you may be underweight, overweight, or the correct weight for your height.”