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27 January 2023

Weight Loss Tips For Better Health

According to the World Health Organization, as of the year 2000, there were over 300 million obese adults in the world. The WHO views obesity as both an epidemic and a major public health problem, stating, “If immediate action is not taken, millions will suffer from an array of serious health disorders.”

But this is not just a global problem. During the pandemic a survey by Public Health Gibraltar revealed some worrying trends in the health and wellbeing of people in Gibraltar. It revealed that of those surveyed 65% were obese and overweight and 82% ate less than five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.

The good news is that obesity is preventable, education is key to helping us all make better choices and bring our weight down to healthy levels.

We’re here to help our patients in Gibraltar lose weight safely for better health and wellbeing. Laura Soiza, our Dietetic Nurse and Nutrition Specialist, is passionate about the impact of diet and lifestyle on our health, here she answers our questions on obesity and how to lose weight.

Thanks for speaking to us Laura, can you start by explaining what health issues being overweight can cause?

Being overweight can increase the risk of developing many health problems, including: type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, heart disease and stroke, fatty liver, certain types of cancer, sleep apnoea, osteoarthritis and kidney disease.

How can you tell if you are at a healthy weight or not?

A healthy weight means that your Body Mass Index (BMI) is within a weight range that is not associated with an increased risk for weight-related diseases and health issues.

You can calculate your BMI by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared.

The World Health Organization has developed standard categories of Body Mass Index (BMI) to help us understand these figures. Less than 18.5 is considered underweight, 18.5–24.9 is normal, 25.0–29.9 is deemed overweight, and if your BMI is 30.0 or more you are classed as obese.

The NHS has a handy BMI calculator which makes this very easy to work out.

What is the link between weight and diabetes?

The risk of type 2 diabetes rises with increasing body weight. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is higher in those who are affected by obesity than in adults who are of normal weight, it is even more likely in those with a BMI greater than 35.

Promoting a healthy lifestyle in children and teenagers reduces their risk of diabetes and its complications. Helping adults at high risk of diabetes to change their diet and lifestyle may prevent them from developing diabetes and the associated consequences of the disease on their health.

What simple and practical steps can you take to lose weight?

Start by looking at your diet and try to eat 5 regular and balanced meals and snacks a day.

Try to have planned meal times and snack on fruit.

Following the Mediterranean diet is also very good for your health and perfect for us here in Gibraltar.

Try and substitute high-calorie food with healthier alternatives. Here are some easy swaps you can do to reduce your daily calorie intake and improve the amount of nutrients you consume. You could replace:

  • Crisps with crunchy peppers and carrots
  • A chocolate bar with a handful of unsalted nuts (for example: walnuts or almonds)
  • High-calorie coffee – such as a latte or mocha – with a lower calorie Americano

I’d advise you avoid or significantly reduce your intake of cakes and biscuits, fast foods (for instance hot dogs, burgers and pizzas), chocolate and sweets, processed meat (such as bacon), chips, sugary drinks and alcohol.

How about exercise?

The key to successful weight loss is developing a healthy diet and good exercise habits.

Diet just means eating healthily, reducing your calories and enjoying balanced meals.

When we talk about exercise, we simply mean being more physically active, depending on our age and health. Try to ensure that you do some type of physical activity every day, this could be taking a walk or dancing, swimming, playing sports or working out at the gym or at home.

Make sure you check with your GP, or a nutritionist, before changing your diet and starting a new exercise routine, to ensure it’s safe for you.

What are your views on crash dieting or fad dieting?

Crash and fad diets can make a person lose weight quickly without taking their health into account, this can lead to imbalances in their blood work, with raised cholesterol and triglycerides, uric acid, and decreased red blood cells (anaemia), in addition to causing problems with blood glucose levels.

Rather than trying a crash diet, concentrate on educating yourself about lifestyle and diet. A dietetic nurse such as myself can advise patients on a healthy diet and how to achieve a weight that they can maintain long term, that’s the secret to achieving the health benefits we all want.

What would your 5 tips be for losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight for life?

  1. Eat five times a day (3 main meals and 2 snacks).
  2. Don’t forget your 5 a day – eat five portions of fresh fruits and vegetables, every day. The more varied the better, each fruit and vegetable contributes different things to our body.
  3. Eat plenty of fish, lean meat, eggs and extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Avoid eating unhealthy fats, processed foods and sugars.
  5. Choose to eat whole wheat flour and pulses rather than white bread, pasta and rice.

My job is to inform and educate my patients so that they understand the great importance of healthy eating to ensure a good quality of life, both now and in the future. We design plans together for each individual patient to ensure that they have energy and feel good, while trying to make changes in lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits in order to beat obesity and promote good health.

About our expert

Laura Soiza is a Dietetic Nurse and Nutrition Specialist in Gibraltar.Image of Laura Sanchez Soiza

She qualified in Nursing at University of Cadiz, before completing a Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics, followed by a Masters in Care and Education for Diabetes.

She has 19 years’ experience including working for the GHA Diabetes Service and the public and private sector in both Gibraltar and Spain.

Laura is a specialist in nutritional education, helping to prevent and correct different medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, childhood and adult obesity.

Please contact us to make an appointment with Laura and let her help you to manage your weight and improve your health and wellbeing.