Obesity is in the news. We are constantly hearing about obesity statistics and the dangers associated with this condition. We know all about the effects that obesity has on how we live our lives. According to this year’s Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey that came out this week, the national obesity rate has increased substantially.
Since 2008, according to data on height and weight that was self-reported by respondents, it is up 2.2% to 27.7% of the population. Hawaii has the lowest rate of obesity. Less than 20% of its residents are obese, while Mississippi has the highest rate with 35.2% of its population classified as obese. In addition, there has been a sharp increase in people 65 years of age or older who are now considered obese.
It is difficult to maintain a healthy weight, much less lose weight in culture that isn’t designed for walking and that is filled to the brim with all-you-can-eat buffets. However, it is possible to drop those unhealthy extra pounds and having information about what being obese means is a step in the right direction.
What Is Obesity?
The percentage of the population defined as being obese has been steadily increasing for the past 25 years. Even though the Gallup poll is alarming, the estimates made by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are even worse. They believe one quarter of all children are now obese as well as 35% of the adult population.
Obesity is defined as having too much body fat. That excess body fact places a person at a higher risk for diseases such as cancer, osteoarthritis, reproductive disorders, pulmonary disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes. Jennifer Nasser, RD, PhD, a professor in Drexel University’s biology department states that, “… obesity can affect functioning of all major body organ systems.”
To determine if someone is obese, the body mass index (BMI) is calculated. The weight and height are included in the formula. Adults with a BMI of 25 or higher are considered to be overweight. A BMI of greater than 30 indicates obesity.
The BMI calculation used for adults does not work when applied to teenagers or children. This is because body fat changes as children age and grow and differs depending upon gender, according to Rose Clifford, RD, in Washington, D. C. at the Washington Hospital Center’s department of pharmacy services. The Child and Teen BMI Calculator available from the CDC is more accurate for people who are less than twenty years old.
What Causes Obesity?
The current epidemic of obesity is being fueled by the convergence of several factors. At the Boston Medical Center, the director of the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management Carol M. Apovian, MD, believes that inexpensive and readily available foods are making people gain weight. She states than the current average diet contains 200 more calories than the typical diet of 50 years ago.
We have become more sedentary over time due to increases in technology. We walk short distances instead of driving and we email instead of walking to talk to a co-worker in person. Extra pounds are added because of environmental conditions as well. At the University of California at Davis, associate nutritionist Linda Bacon, PhD, believes that the interaction between the environment and the genes can cause weight gain.
The environment is in a state of change and the genetic codes of many individuals make them more prone to weight gain in the current conditions. In addition, there are more toxic compounds in the areas where humans live. Many of these toxins stimulate hormonal changes including how we eat and how much fat we store. In addition, many of the foods we eat today are new and do not trigger internal mechanisms that regulate our weight in the same way that more natural products do.
What Are The Effects Of Obesity?
Obesity can cause more than just health related problems. It is also linked to issues with self-esteem, depression, and economic hardships. In addition, people who are obese are often discriminated again socially and in the employment market. It is now more common than discrimination based on gender and race.
There are more effects. In the Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index, participants were asked to rate how they felt about their well-being. Five key areas to define well-being were used: physical (having the energy to to things and having good health), community (feeling happy in the area that you live), financial (feeling secure and not stressed about money), social (the quality of relationships), and purpose (feeling good about what you do on a daily basis). People who were not obese scored higher than people who were obese in these key areas. For more information on healthy weights and ideas about obesity to see if we can hep you out, check with WEBMD here.
Even though you can’t change your environment or your genetics, there are still options. Talk to your physician about treatment options for weight loss. Don’t spend time sitting down watching television. Instead, make sure that you work exercise into your daily routine. Be aware of your portion sizes and choose to eat smaller ones. In addition, eat a minimum of five servings of vegetables and fruits each day.
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