For many of us in Singapore, one of the main health issues we face is obesity. According to the National Health Survey conducted by the Health Promotion Board in 2010, one in nine Singaporean adults aged between 18 and 69 years was found to be obese, and Singapore’s obesity rate is increasing at about 1 per cent each year (as recently as 2014). Many times, due to our work and family commitments, individuals are consigned to highly sedentary lifestyles that do our bodies no favours.

What Is A Healthy BMI?

A quick test to see if you are obese is to use the common method of measuring your body mass index (BMI). BMI is calculated based on your body weight and height:
Weight (kg) ÷ [height (m) X by height (m)]


Being overweight or obese is not the end of the world. However, just as you did not put on the weight overnight, you will not slim down instantly either. Weight reduction takes time, effort, discipline and know-how.

Related: Calculate Your BMI

I Don't Eat Very Much, So Why Am I Obese?

Weight gain is due to an imbalance between the amount of energy intake and energy used by the body. Although you might eat fewer calories, you will still gain weight if your body is not efficiently using the energy you take in from food and drinks. Lifestyle factors are one of the most common causes of obesity.

Ask yourself if you have lately been:

  • Eating large portions and snacking in between meals
  • Eating food rich in fat and sugar, including soft drinks and sweets
  • Working in a sedentary environment
  • Lacking in exercise

People with a family history of obesity are also more likely to become overweight or obese. Certain illnesses and medication can also lead to weight gain. Please consult with your doctor to understand the causes of your weight gain. If necessary, he/she can start you on a weight management plan or prescribe specific treatment for obesity-related health problems.

Related: Step Up For Better Health

How Can I Start to Control My Weight?

Young woman leaning on a bicycle.

There are four steps to that.

  1. Know your BMI.
  2. Know how much weight to lose, and over how long: target the BMI range of 20–25. Do also note that you should not be losing more than 1 to 1.5kg per week. The rate of weight loss also depends on how overweight you are (for example, an 80kg person would lose weight more slowly than a 100kg person).
  3. Find out your activity level (according to job and leisure time) and daily energy needs.
  4. Create a log of your eating habits and activity patterns (light, moderate or heavy) to estimate your energy intake and expenditure.

Using the information you’ve gathered to modify your diet and activity can bring about more effective weight loss. However, please consult your doctor before beginning any dieting and exercise plan.

How Can I Lose Weight and Maintain a Healthy Weight?

Two women encouraging each other while jogging in the park.

Regardless of the cause of weight gain, monitoring food intake and increasing physical activity will help you shed the excess and maintain your weight at healthier levels.

Losing about 10 percent of weight over three to six months cuts down the health risk of obesity-related illness in overweight and obese people, even if the target weight cannot be achieved.

Here are some weight-loss tips to help control your weight:

  • Have a smart diet plan that reduces fat and carbohydrates, and take in more fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Eat a moderate amount, stop when you feel full and avoid snacking so that you do not consume excess calories per day. However, do note that crash diets or fad diets are dangerous to your health and cannot be sustained in the long run. Diets that boast to be low-fat or low-carb have been shown to reduce weight, but their long-term effects are not known. A qualified dietician can help you plan a balanced diet with fewer calories to achieve weight loss and maintenance.
  • Add more physical activity into your daily routine such as climbing the stairs instead of taking the lift. Do moderate-intensity exercise five times a week, up to a maximum of 30 minutes each session. This can include brisk walking, light cycling or sports such as badminton. As your fitness levels improve, gradually incorporate more intense workouts like jogging or swimming. By this point, you can cut back on duration and frequency as these activities require more of you. Try exercising for at least 20 minutes three days a week.
  • Some individuals may need extra help from medications to control weight. These medications may be used for a short period (six to 12 months) or in the long term (up to three years) in combination with diet modification and exercise.
  • Another option is bariatric surgery. Such procedures are only done for people with weight-related illnesses when all other serious attempts at weight loss have failed. Your doctor is the best person to advise if you need such an operation.

Related: How To Lose Weight The Healthy Way

How to Stick to My Weight Loss Plan?

Planning a healthy diet plan with healthy food on the table.

Your plan will only be as strong as your determination to succeed. In order to get results, you can try to:

  • Set realistic goals, for example, target a loss of 1kg a week.
  • Reward yourself when you reach a weight goal with activities like an outing or a good meal (remember, moderation is key).
  • Make healthy eating and exercise part of your lifestyle, and involve your family or friends to increase accountability.
  • Visualise a slimmer and healthier you, and tell yourself you can do it.
  • Even if you miss exercise sessions or cannot keep to your diet for some time, it is important to think positively and resume your plans as soon as you can!

This article is adapted from the brochure, “What is Obesity?” produced by CGH.
Caring Magazine, Issue 141 (Mar/Apr 16)

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