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Weight management

Overweight is one of the most prominent health risks. Overweight and obesity increase the risk of many types of cancer and also cause several other common diseases.

When you remain a normal weight or try to do so, you can reduce the risk of many illnesses. The main measures for weight monitoring is the Body Mass Index  (BMI) and waist circumference.

According to research, weight management, healthy nutrition and sufficient exercise can help prevent at least a third of the most common cancers.

The majority of Finns are overweight, even though the prevalence of overweight is decreasing.  Our weight tells us when we are getting more energy from food and drink than we use. This nowadays goes unnoticed, as we spend a large part of each day sitting at work, at home and in vehicles.  So there is not enough movement in relation to the amount of energy from we get from food and drink.

What cancer does being overweight cause?

Overweight and excess fat around the waist increase the risk of illness

  • breast cancer (postmenopausal)
  • cancer of the colon and rectum
  • cervical cancer
  • pancreatic cancer
  • oesophageal cancer
  • kidney cancer

Overweight and obesity possibly also increase the risk of gall bladder cancer, liver cancer, ovarian cancer, and aggressive prostate cancer.

“We spend a large part of each day sitting at work, at home and in vehicles.”

As the BMI increases the risk of cancer risk increases according to the type of cancer type. When BMI exceeds the obesity limit (BMI> 30), the risk of cancer increases significantly, by about one-fifth compared to the normal weight (BMI <25). Severe obesity (BMI> 40) is associated with a more than 1.5 times higher risk of developing cancer.

The link between cancer and obesity is complex. However, we can say that the more people have fat in their body, especially around the waist, the greater their risk of having certain cancers.

Overweight and obesity cause cancer in a variety of ways. The fat cells accumulated in the human body produce hormones and growth factors that spread around the body with the bloodstream. These hormones and growth factors can cause different cancers and accelerate the growth of cancer cells.

The fatty tissue accumulated around the waist, in particular, is harmful in terms of cancer, because the action of fat accumulated around the internal organs is greater than is the case with the rest of the body’s fat

”Abundant adipose tissue (loose connective fat) causes a mild inflammatory condition in the body.”

Insulin is an important hormone that regulates glucose metabolism and how we obtain energy from food. Overweight increases levels of insulin and its derivatives in the blood. This can cause an uncontrolled distribution of cells and so increase the risk of cancer.

Fat cells also increase the amount of the sex hormone oestrogen in the body. In women, high oestrogen levels increase the risk of breast cancer after menopause.

A large amount of adipose tissue causes a mild inflammatory condition in the body, which increases the risk of cancer. This inflammatory condition contributes to harmful changes in cellular activity. Obesity also weakens the action of the body’s own defense mechanism, the immune system.


Obesity is one of the most serious health risks. It causes many long-term illnesses that are a public heath threat and increases the risk of premature death.

Apart from cancer, obesity causes numerous other diseases, such as type-2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular diseases, asthma, musculoskeletal disorders, sleep apnoea, and biliary and pancreatic diseases. A connection has been proved between obesity and dementia and depression. Physical functional capacity and workability are weakened due to obesity.


There are two different ways of measuring overweight: using BMI and by measuring waistline. It is important to check your weight regularly.

Your BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilos by your height in meters squared. The weight For example, a body mass index of 65 kg and 170 cm (put into meters) is calculated as:

65: 1.70 x 1.70 = 22.5

The BMI tells you your normal weight limits: an adult’s BMI should be 18.5-24.9. If your BMI is 25-30, then you are overweight. A BMI over 30 indicate obesity.

In muscular people, especially men, the body mass index may go above 25, however, without being an indication of obesity. BMI is not suitable for assessing the weight of children.

“The build-up of fat around the abdomen is more harmful to your health.”

Another good measure is waistline. The build-up of fat around the abdomen is more harmful to your health than fat that builds up in your buttocks and thighs.  Waistline should be less than 80 cm in women and less than 94 cm in men. The waistline is measured a couple of centimetres above the navel.

Keep your weight in check

Losing weight is not easy. So, the most sensible approach is to maintain a normal weight, preventing overweight.

But if excess weight has built up, you should always aim to lose weight. Even losing a few kilos a few will improve your health. The best means of weight management is having a healthy diet.

You lose weight when the energy you burn up is more than you get from food and drink. So, avoid food and drink that contains a lot of fat and/or sugar. Instead consume fruit and vegetables, which are low in energy. Exercise also furthers weight loss.


With managing your, it is best to proceed slowly (0.5 to 1 kg a week). That way the changes are permanent, and the kilos cannot easily build up again. Stringent diets and exercise regimes are usually followed only for a little while and the situation soon returns to what it was..

You can manage weight management using these tips

  • Eat regularly and don’t miss meals. Regular meal rhythms help curb excessive eating. Avoid snacking.
  • Opt for lunch and dinner using the healthy plate model: vegetables on half the plate, potatoes, whole grain rice or pasta on a quarter of the plate, and meat, fish or pulses on the other quarter.
  • Opt for fruit and vegetables. You should eat at least half a kilo of vegetables, root vegetables, and fruit and berries a day (that’s about six handfuls).
  • Use high fibre full grain products.
  • Check the kind of fat you consume. Go for soft fats instead of hard fats. Olive oil is a better option than butter.
  • Avoid using large amounts of sugar. There is a lot of sugar not only in sweets and sodas, but also in many yogurts and fresh juices.
  • Keep your salt use in check. We only need a very small amount every day. Also, bear in mind that as much as 80% of the daily salt intake comes from so-called hidden salt in foodstuffs.
  • We easily obtain energy from various types of drinks, especially alcohol, sodas and fresh juices.

Read more on the alcohol and health hazards


You can ease weight management and losing weight by getting enough exercise. Exercise increases energy consumption and curbs excessive eating.

But exercise alone is not an effective slimming method. Simply adding exercise without changing your diet will reduce weight by only about 2-3 kilos over a few months. However, all movement is beneficial: the more exercise, the greater the benefits.