Excess body weight and obesity occur when a person takes in more calories than he or she burns off. Some of the excess calories are stored in the body as fat. However, genetic, environmental, psychological and other factors contribute to obesity. Obesity is hitting epidemic proportions in Canada with one in five Canadians considered obese. Being overweight or obese increases your risk for heart disease and stroke, diabetes, cancer, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis and gall bladder disease. Abdominal obesity is defined as having a waist circumference greater than 102 cm in men and greater than 88 cm in women.
            How much you weigh and how fit you are, are two important factors related to the risk of the "Metabolic Syndrome. Losing weight increases the levels of HDL-C (good cholesterol) and decreases levels of triglycerides and LDL-C (bad cholesterol). Even a reduction of 5 -10% of your total weight can increase the body's sensitivity to insulin and lower your blood pressure. Exercise demonstrates a benefit on all factors of metabolic syndrome. Try to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day (bicycling, raking leaves, gardening, dancing, and even a brisk walk). For guidance with exercise, follow Canada's Physical Activity Guide: www.paguide.com.
            People are usually encouraged to modify their lifestyle under the direction of a physician. Medication may be prescribed to help you bring your metabolic system back under control. Decreasing the amount of fats and oils in your diets, avoiding concentrated sweets, quitting smoking and avoiding excess use of alcohol will greatly improve your condition. If overeating is your way of coping with stress, identify the source of your stress and learn new ways to cope (i.e. instead of reaching for food, go for a walk or take a hot bath).

Where your body stores the fat is a clue to your healthy weight. Excess body fat that settles in the stomach area (around the waist), giving you an apple shape, puts a person at higher risk for early heart disease. Excess weight carried below the waist (hips, buttocks and thighs), giving you a pear shape, doesn't appear to be a major risk factor for heart disease.

Are you an APPLE or a PEAR?
Try this simple waist-hip measurement:


Measure your waist at the smallest part.


Measure your hips at their widest.


Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.


Use the result from 3. (WHR) to assess your health risk.

Lower Risk

Higher Risk

  • WHR less than 0.8 for women

  • WHR less than 1.0 for men

  • WHR greater than 0.8 for women

  • WHR greater than 1.0 for men

The Waist/Hip ratio (WHR) is a measure of trunk fatness.
It is a good indicator of weight distribution as a risk factor for illnesses such as heart disease.