Overweight goes by all sorts of names. The euphonious word is “obesity,” but “too fat” is more descriptive and gets to the point faster!

Of course most overweight people claim they are “big honed,” that “my parents were large too,” and “I was given the wrong kind of food as a baby,” and so on. Many cases of obesity are certainly genetically determined, just as a constitutionally thin person is designed that way from the moment of conception, nine months before birth.

Many babies are overfed and develop into fat infants, into overweight schoolchildren and adolescents, and finally to the unhappy fat adult.

Some habits, once commenced babyhood, are continued right throughout life. Overweight children tend to eat the type of food that will keep them that way. Unless he (or she, and usually the latter) radically alters the eating patterns, then there will be turning back. This is one major real why the obese find it hard to lose as an ongoing project. It is very hard to reverse completely the eating habits patterns that have been practiced through life. If you have ever tried you will know what I mean.

However, there are many reasons a person should not be overweight, today, more than ever before; we also know more about the hazards of obesity. The chief one heading the list is the risk of premature heart attack. As Australians and New Zealanders already die annually from diseases of the heart blood vessels; it becomes more than academic exercise to try to reduce to limits.

Most women know when they overweight. They simply look in the mirror and the answer is there staring them in the face (or rather, in the stoma). Males are more prone not to accept fact, and will put up various excuses to avoid going to the doctor, and will eventually decide to lose weight for reasons of appearance. Sad to relate, it is not very often people seek to lose weight merely for reasons of health.

“Obesity” is a national problem. As theWestern world increases in prosperity, weight of its citizens also increases! More than one half of the world is starving to death; the other half is eating itself to death. It is literally digging its own grave with its teeth! Obesity can predispose to many serious diseases.

Heart disease and heart attacks are more common among the obese. So is a disease of the joints. Surgery is more difficult, healing slower. It is a handicap in pregnancy, tends to delay puberty and to increase fertility.

It makes life harder as well. If a person is 12 kg overweight, it is the same as permanently carrying around a case containing that same amount of solid rock! If a person is this overweight, it is claimed the heart must pump the blood through an extra 35 km of vessels with each beat! No wonder it gets prematurely tired and tends to give out sooner than normal!

Life insurance companies have an intimate knowledge of how extra kilograms reduce the life span. They load premiums of applicants whose weight exceeds normal ranges. They are well aware that “the longer the belt-lines, the shorter the life-line.”

When considering weight, food is measured in fuel units called “calories” (or joules in metric language). Each day a certain number of kilojoules are needed to meet the energy requirements of the system. The more active a person is, the more kilojoules are needed each day. After the age of 25 years, the daily requirements tend to drop each decade.

Therefore, unless there is a gradual reduction in food intake, there will be a slow increase in weight. An average man of moderate activity needs between 10,000 and 12,500 kJ (2,400 and 3,000 calories) a day; a woman needs around 9,250 to 10,000 kJ (2,200 to 2,400 calories) a day.