Understanding Obesity

Understanding Obesity

The foods we eat every day contribute to our well-being. Foods provide us with the nutrients we need for healthy bodies and the calories we need for energy. If we take in more calories than we burn, the extra food turns to fat. If we overeat regularly, we gain weight, and if we continue to gain weight, we may become obese.

In 2004, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ranked obesity as the number one health risk facing America.

Obesity currently results in an estimated 400,000 deaths a year in the United States and costs the national economy nearly $122.9 billion annually. If current trends in the growth of obesity continue, total healthcare costs attributable to obesity could reach $861 to $957 billion by 2030, which would account for 16% to 18% of US health expenditures.

Childhood obesity affects more than 15 percent of the population under 18 years old that is classified as overweight.

Obesity not only impacts lifestyle but can also lead to lower self-esteem, cause depression and discomfort in social situations, and significantly diminish quality of life. It also increases a person’s risk for developing serious obesity-related health conditions.

Defining Obesity
What’s the difference between obesity and simply being overweight?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the term “overweight” refers to body weight that is at least 10 percent over the recommended weight.

Recommended weight standards are generated based on “Body Mass Index” (BMI), a calculation that assesses weight relative to height. In common terms, “overweight” refers to an individual with a BMI of more than 25. Of course, it’s important to remember that being overweight may not only be the result of increased body fat, but the result of increased lean muscle as well;

Obesity is generally defined as an excessive amount of body fat in relation to lean body mass. In numeric terms, obesity refers to a body weight that is at least 30 percent over the ideal weight for a specified height. More commonly, obesity refers to any individual with a BMI of more than 30.

Causes: Weight gain and obesity are caused by consuming more calories than the body needs – energy imbalance.

However, the imbalance between calories consumed and calories burned can also be caused by a number of different physiological factors, including genetic and hormonal problems related to deficiencies in internal body functions.

For instance, genetic determinations such as the way a body expends energy, hormones that affect the way calories are processed, and other organ systems in the body can all affect appetite. For these reasons, today’s physicians address a number of considerations when working with obese patients – and those considerations are increasingly going beyond just calorie counting and exercise. Beside energy imbalance there are other well-known causes: hormonal imbalance, Cushing diseases, genetics, lifestyle, emotions, age, etc.

Diagnosis of Obesity:

  1. Weight-to-height table
  2. Percentage of body fat
  3. BMI (body mass index)
  4. Waist measurement

To calculate your body mass index, follow these steps:

  • Multiply your weight in pounds by 705
  • Then divide by your height in inches
  • Divide this by your height in inches again

What does BMI tell you?

  • Normal weight = 18.5-24.9
  • Overweight = 25.0-29.9
  • Obese = 30 or greater
  • Morbidly obese = 40 or greater

Waist measurement is also an important factor. People with “apple” shapes, who tend to put on weight around their waist, have a higher risk of obesity-related health problems. This includes women with a waist measurement of greater than 35 inches, and men with a waist measurement of greater than 40 inches.

Obesity is a well-known risk factor for many diseases:

  1. Diabetes, type 2
  2. Heart disease
  3. Metabolic syndrome
  4. High blood pressure
  5. Liver (fatty liver)
  6. Stroke
  7. Osteoarthritis
  8. Gallbladder disease
  9. Cancer (breast, colon, endometrial, kidney)
  10. Asthma
  11. Acid reflux
  12. Sleep apnea; and many more

The distribution of body fat also plays a role in determining your risk of obesity-related health problems. There are at least two different kinds of body fat. Studies conducted in Scandinavia have shown that excess body fat distributed around the waist (“apple”-shaped figure, intra-abdominal fat) carries more risk than fat distributed on the hips and thighs (“pear”-shaped figure, fat under the skin).

If you are overweight or obese you should consult your physician. Run the standard test, do the general physical exam and create a plan for change. The best way to loose weight is to decrease calorie intake and increase exercise. By decreasing daily calorie intake by 500 calories or expending an extra 500 calories during exercise each day, you will lose about 1 pound per week.

With your next meal, ask yourself is this good for my body or my test buds? Choose wisely.

Do not wait to waste your money on medical bills.
TAKE ACTION NOW! IT’S UP TO YOU. You can change your lifestyle.

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