Overweight and obesity are largely preventable and reversible.
It the individual level, lowering your risk of overweight and obesity normally involves reducing the number of calories consumed from fats and sugars, increasing your daily intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and nuts, and exercising regularly. At least 60 minutes of exercise most days a week will help you maintain a healthy body weight.
Eating a healthy and balanced diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is crucial to maintaining a healthy heart and circulation system. A healthy diet should include a wide variety of unprocessed and fresh foods, including plenty of fruit and vegetables (at least five portions every day), whole grains, nuts and foods low in saturated fats, sugars and salt. Be wary of processed foods, which often contain high levels of salt, and drink lots of water!
It only takes 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, five days a week, to improve and maintain your health. Adults (aged 18-65) and seniors (65+) should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, or at least 75 minutes of high-intensity physical activity, every week. Children and adolescents should do at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity every day.
Try to make exercise a regular part of your life: use the stairs instead of the lift, get off the bus a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way. Being active is also a great way to relieve stress and control your weight, which are both risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
At the government level, policymakers can play an important role in ensuring people have access to the tools they need to lead and active and healthy life. Governments can support individuals to make healthier choices by implementing policies that make regular physical activity and healthier dietary choices available, affordable and easily accessible to everyone, including those with the lowest incomes. Some examples of such policies are:
- Implementing a mandatory, easy to understand front-of-pack labelling system
- Restricting the amount of sugar that can be present in food products
- Implementing a sugar tax
- Restricting the marketing of junk food to children
- Developing well-planned urban spaces that encourage and active lifestyle
Creating environments where a healthy diet and regular physical activity are the easiest, most accessible and most affordable choice are essential to motivating people to adopt and sustain healthy lifestyles, and in turn to reducing the global burden of overweight and obesity.