Belfast Telegraph

Forget dress sizes, losing weight is about survival

By Suzanne Breen

Never mind dieting to drop a dress size, we need to fight the flab to save our lives.

Obese women run a 40% greater risk of developing a weight-related cancer. That startling statistic should be enough to get us off our bulging backsides.

This isn't about body fascism, or saying every woman should be a size eight. It's a wake-up call to take action now to avoid ill-health and death.

Eating what we like and opting for elasticated waistbands isn't part of the march towards female liberation. The only place it's taking us is to the grave. Of course, counting the calories and exercising isn't a cast iron guarantee against cancer.

Getting the disease is, first and foremost, down to chance. Those queuing for chemotherapy include plenty of people who have lived healthy lives.

A major study in January showed that two-thirds of cancer cases are caused by random genetic mutations, but there are still proven methods of reducing the risk of developing the disease.

By filling our supermarket trollies full of processed gunk, and taking so little exercise because we prefer to squander our spare time on social media, we're stacking the odds against ourselves.

I'm as guilty as anybody else.

It's not just cancer we should be worrying about. Obesity is linked to a substantially increased risk of stroke, heart disease, arthritis and Type 2 diabetes.

Don't doubt these figures. How many size 20 80-year-olds do you know?

More than a fifth of women here are obese and, most alarmingly, 90% of paediatricians say that childhood obesity is their biggest concern.

I'd clobber anyone who says fat is always a feminist issue. Size acceptance is acceptance of the unhealthy. Too often we pussyfoot around obesity. We're scared to confront the elephant in the room.

Years ago, fat people blamed their glands. Now they blame their genes.

There are no big secrets involved in losing weight - it's just about eating less and exercising more.

Walking is the easiest exercise around.

A pair of sneakers and old-fashioned self-discipline will take you a long way.

It's time to take control of our own bodies and wage war on obesity.

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