Body weight management: A balancing act

Body weight management: A balancing act

A recent national survey found that over 60% of Irish adults (aged 18-64 years) are either overweight or obese.

This is very worrying as being overweight can be detrimental to our health. Weight gain results if, over time, the energy we consume is greater than the energy expended - which can subsequently lead to becoming overweight or obese.

Below are statistics from national surveys, showing the prevalence of overweight and obesity among Irish children, teenagers and adults.

  Children*
5-12 years
Teens**
13-17 years
Adults***
18-64 years
Normal Weight 78% 82% 39%
Overweight 11% 11% 37%
Obesity 11% 8% 24%

*National Children's Food Survey 2005
** National Teens Food Survey 2008
***Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance 2011. National Adult Nutrition Survey. Summary Report.

Although a number of factors can influence our weight such as genetics and lifestyle choices, the balance between energy intake and energy expenditure is central to body weight. Both healthy dietary habits and an active lifestyle are recommended for effective weight management.

Don’t Ditch the Dairy!

The relationship between dairy foods and body weight is often misunderstood, with many people mistakenly thinking they should avoid or limit their intake from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group when ‘watching their weight’. However, Irish whole milk typically contains just 3.5% fat, semi-skimmed milk contains no more than 1.8% fat and skimmed milk has no more than 0.5% fat. There are also a wide range of lower-fat yogurt and cheese varieties on our supermarket shelves to choose from.

If you are ‘watching your weight’ or trying to lose weight, it is essential that your diet remains balanced and that your nutrient requirements are still met. By cutting out an entire food group, such as the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ group, the nutritional quality of the diet is very likely to be affected. Remember, dairy can be easily included and enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet – even if ‘watching your weight’.

Controlling those Calories!

Some tips include:

  • Adopt a regular meal pattern: aim for 3 balanced meals each day, and snack when necessary.
  • Choose healthier snacks such as a fresh fruit salad or a yogurt.
  • Boil, grill, steam and bake foods as opposed to frying them.
  • Be mindful of portion sizes. When dining out, try to choose healthier options.
  • Visit our recipe section