We all know that weight loss is important. We know we need a weight loss plan or to start a weight loss program - but ... honestly ... why bother? Will a weight loss program really make any difference in the long run?
Many of us comfort ourselves with thoughts like the ones above as we yo-yo between diets and see the scales swing their readings upwards and down. But there is new evidence to give you a fresh push towards better long term health - particularly if you have high blood pressure in addition to being overweight.
Body weight and blood pressure interact in a number of important ways. There is a direct link between how overweight you are and how high your blood pressure will be. Not all overweight people have high blood pressure but a large number of them do - particularly in men.
Brace yourself and think hard about this:
If you are twenty percent overweight (body weight more than 160lb for an average woman or more than 205lb for an average man) then you are eight times more likely to have high blood pressure than someone of a normal weight.
Excellent recent research has shown that - no matter what your starting weight - a weight loss of one kilogram will result in a drop in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure of one mmHg. Just think of it like this: if you are overweight, have high blood pressure and are fed up taking large numbers of tablets each day - then try taking some weight off. Losing ten kilograms will see your blood pressure drop by a significant amount. Weight loss of twenty kilograms could see you being able to stop taking many, or all, of your tablets. What a prize that could be!
Being overweight is also strongly linked to high blood cholesterol levels and to diabetes. These three things - diabetes, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels - are often called the deadly triad. Having one makes you more at risk of early death, two out of three and you could be in real trouble and all three leaves you a sitting duck waiting for a stroke or heart attack to strike. All three are directly linked to being overweight and all three can be avoided or improved by weight loss.
But that's not all. If you have high blood pressure then weight loss can also reduce your risk of dying from all causes.
Most overweight people carry their extra fat around their middle - this is particularly true in men. There is now overwhelming evidence that measuring abdominal girth can predict life expectancy. If you want to see those around you who are likely to die young then open your eyes and look at their waistband - it really is that accurate!
Some specialists say that measuring your waist circumference is a better way to determine your risk of stroke, diabetes or heart attack than measuring your weight on the scales. For good health, men should not go above a waist circumference of 35 inches and women should stay below 33 inches. Any man with a waist circumference above 39 inches is in real and imminent danger and should act to achieve weight loss immediately.
Waist measurement is also a direct pointer to your risk of having a stroke, a heart attack, or developing diabetes.
So - do you still think that getting rid of that big tummy is optional? No - well then, please .. make a start on losing weight today. Your life really does depend on it.
Dr Gordon Cameron MD is based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
He has a special interest in working with people to improve their cardiovascular health. Weight loss is crucial in this - as is helping them to achieve lower blood pressure.
More information on these topics is available on Dr Cameron's web site - follow the links above.