Obesity is one of the countries most serious health problems. During the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and rates remain high. More than one-third of U.S. adults (34.9%) and approximately 17% (or 12.7 million) of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years have obesity (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Obesity can lead to more than thirty other chronic illnesses and represents a quarter of all health care costs.
The health consequences from obesity can lead to Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, hypertension, breathing difficulties, some cancers such as breast and colon, musculoskeletal disease like osteoarthritis, and cardiovascular disease, which was the leading cause of death in 2012.
BMI (or Body Mass Index) is the most common way to determine if someone is overweight, underweight or obese. BMI measures body fat based on height and weight. There are simple calculators available online that will allow you to input your height and weight and provide you with your BMI. As you will see a BMI of 18.5-24.9 is considered normal weight, 25-29.9 is considered overweight and 30 or above is considered obese.
The good news is that obesity is preventable. Last month I wrote about metabolism and how what we eat or calories into our body needs to match what we use through exercise/activity. If they match, we maintain our weight. However, if more calories go in compared to what we use, we gain weight. If less calories go in compared to what we use, we lose weight. Calories consumed vs. calories used is one major way to combat obesity. Here are other helpful ways to combat obesity:
- Healthier choices for food – no super sizing, limit fast food, fat, sugar, and sodium
- Know your BMI (Body Mass Index)
- Read food labels to understand what you are eating
- Increase consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Eat reasonable portion sizes
- Drink lots of water (8 glasses a day is a good guide)
- Limit computer, TV, and technology time
- Engage in physical activity: 60 minutes/day for kids and 2 ½ hours a week for adults. If you can’t exercise do some type of activity. Walk, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away from your destination so you can walk more.
- Educate your children at a young age since many lifestyle habits begin during childhood
- Create family time that includes activities such as biking, walking, playing ball, etc.
These simple changes can improve your quality of life as well as your overall health and may help reduce your risk of chronic disease and premature death. Start making better choices today for yourself and your children.
Note: Please consult with your doctor before starting any new nutrition or exercise program.