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Issue Date:- 19 May 2008

Millions at risk” as campaign urges “know your BMI

AT least 1.7 million UK adults are overweight or obese but don’t know it – and millions of others can’t work it out.   So says a shocking survey from weight loss experts LighterLife, which is being used to launch BMI 4 Life Fortnight – a campaign to highlight the life-and-death importance of Body Mass Index.

BMI is widely used to establish if someone is a healthy weight for their height. The 18.5 - 24.9 band is seen as healthy, while 25 + is overweight, and 30 is obese, increasingkillerrisks including stroke, heart disease and diabetes.

The nationally representative survey, conducted by BMRB, polled more than 1000 adults, and calculated the BMI of each.  The results showed that 25% of respondents either didn’t know what BMI meant, or got it wrong.  Alarmingly, half of the total had no idea how it was measured, and 75%, when asked, didn’t recognise that a BMI of 31 would make them obese.

When asked about their own BMI, the results got more personal….  Only 1 in 3 wereconfidentthey knew their BMI, and 80% of these thought their BMI was normal. However, in reality, 1 in 8 who thought they were normal - representing 1.7 million people – were, alarmingly, overweight.

Juliette du Plessis, Programme Director at LighterLife urged everyone to check their BMI – and raise thousands of £s for the Stroke Association charity. She said:- “People can check their BMI free, and instantly, at and for every BMI calculation made, LighterLife will donate £1 to the Stroke Association." 

Juliette added:- “Many just don’t realise the significance of BMI. The research showed that 36% of all respondents thought ‘blood pressure’ was the most important number when it came to health dangers, with ‘BMI’ second at 30%.  But a high BMI is actually one of the main causes of high blood pressure - and losing weight can eliminate this.”

Laura Dart, Deputy Director for The Stroke Association, said:- “A stroke is a brain attack and it can kill you. If a stroke doesn’t kill you, it is likely to leave you severely disabled.

Being obese can increase your risk of stroke by up to a 3rd so it is vital we all maintain a healthy body weight and a good diet. 

Body Mass Index is one measure of a healthy body weight. Knowing your BMI along with waist measurements can help to reduce the risk of the UK’s 3rd biggest killer - stroke. Waist measurements are important as the more excess weight around the waist puts you at greater risk of health problems.”

The Stroke Association and LighterLife strongly advise people to seek advice from their doctor before embarking on any diet to reduce weight.

Be a champ for kids!

EX-WBC Super Middleweight Champion and Olympic bronze medallist, Robin Reid, is teaming up with local foster carers to urge many more local people to foster.

Robin, from L8, was himself fostered by heroic carer Lynne Reid, 60, who has fostered more than 100 Liverpool and Merseyside children over the past 35 years. She is still in touch with every single one of them.

Robin attended a special event at St John’s Beacon, city centre on 17 May, celebrating Foster Care Fortnight (12-25 May). The event gave people their chance to speak to local foster carers and hear all about their experiences, as well as meet the council’s fostering team and find out everything there is to know about fostering.

The council’s executive director for children’s services, Stuart Smith, said:- “Foster Care Fortnight gives us a great opportunity to raise awareness about the need for foster carers in the city, as well as highlighting and celebrating the important work they do. I’m delighted Robin Reid is supporting our efforts to find happy homes for Liverpool children.  Whether it's providing a permanent home, offering short-term care at a difficult time or helping a child with disabilities and their family take a break, you'll find you can make an extraordinary difference.

Fostering takes real patience, dedication and stamina to look after children at what's often a troubled time in their lives – but the rewards can be fantastic. If you can offer a welcoming home and a family life to a child who cannot live with their own parents, you’ll find it won't just be their life you change for the better, but your own as well.”

There are currently 320 foster carers in Liverpool, but many more are needed. The council has more than 600 children in foster placements at any one time, aged from birth to 18 years. Foster carers are needed for children of all backgrounds in Liverpool, but there is a particular need for carers for boys aged 5-12, brothers and sisters and ethnic minority youngsters.

Foster parents in Liverpool are also backing the council’s latest drive to recruit more carers as part of Foster Care Fortnight. Allan (60) and Barbara (61) from South Liverpool are full-time foster carers and have looked after for 20 children over the last 16 years. In 2004, they took on their biggest challenge yet, when they provided a home for 3 sisters from Africa.  The girls, 18, 14 and 12, arrived in the UK as unaccompanied asylum seekers, and spoke little English. 4 years on, and they are thriving in their new Liverpool home and doing extremely well in their social, sporting and academic lives.

Barbara said:- “The best thing about being a foster carer is the opportunity to make a difference and see kids blossom. If you can change the life of even one child, it’s an amazing thing.  It isn’t easy. It’s very hard looking after someone else’s child, and many of the children have complex needs, but you get plenty of support – there’s always help on hand. I’ve enjoyed every minute of being a foster carer, and neither I nor my husband would change what we do for the world!”

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