By Anthony Glanville – Dietitian
Australia’s Healthy Weight Week is an initiative of the Dietitians Association of Australia, raising awareness of the importance of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle. We’re taking a break from Australia’s Healthy Weight Week in 2018 – instead Accredited Practising Dietitians around the country will be running the new Smart Eating Week campaign. And that break is very much reflective of what evidence is suggesting in helping people maintain a healthy Weight.
BMI, body composition including body fat %, and waist circumference are all used to help identify your long term risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and certain types of cancer. Evidence shows that having a BMI of 18.5-25 kg/m2, body fat % of 10-20%, and a waist circumference of <94cm are indicators for no increased risk of developing these diseases. And that’s just all these measurements are – looking at the risk of developing diseases. They all have flaws, particularly BMI, but they are not predictors that you are certainty to develop these diseases, which is what many people think.
Importantly, what we care a lot less about is weight. All stepping on the scales and looking at your weight does is prove that gravity exists. Too many of my clients place far too much influence on the day to day fluctuations of their weight, and see that as a reflection of their work and mind set. Weight can be influenced by so many factors including carbohydrate intake, fibre, salt intake, hydration, menstruation cycle, illness, stress and anxiety.
And with that obsession of monitoring weight, comes the process of living by the sword and dying by the sword. I’ve seen so many clients throw in the towel, even after improving their eating, exercise habits, stress, sleep, and thought process around health, just because their weight didn’t move as much they wanted it to (which can be driven by media, society, and other people). You are much better off focussing on and monitoring your behaviours, like smart and healthy eating, changing your attitudes towards food, and getting more active. Set goals around these, and monitor your ability to achieve those goals. Ditch the scales. This is where you will find the pathway to long term and sustainable changes.