Health Matters

Dealing with Obesity

Experts estimate that approximately 70 percent of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, and the issue has reached epidemic levels in today’s society.

Obesity is determined by a person’s body mass index (BMI), which is calculated by comparing his or her height and weight. People with a BMI of 30 or greater are considered obese.

What Causes Obesity?

A number of factors can contribute to obesity, including genetics, certain medications that cause weight gain, and—in rare instances—medical conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome or Prader-Willi syndrome. For the majority of people with obesity, however, the primary causes are overeating (consuming more calories than the body needs for energy and maintenance) and sedentary lifestyle (not getting enough daily physical activity).

 How Can Obesity Affect Me Negatively?

In addition to its often negative impacts on body image and self-esteem, obesity also can diminish quality of life by affecting health, social well-being, job prospects and finances. Specifically with regard to health, over time obesity can lead to serious issues, including the following:

•     High blood pressure

•     High cholesterol

•     Heart disease

•     Stroke

•     Type 2 diabetes

•     Sleep apnea

•     Joint problems caused by excessive weight

•     Osteoarthritis

•     Infertility

•     Certain cancers

What Can You Do About Obesity?

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, obese persons should aim to lose 5-10 percent of their weight. To help lose weight and lower your BMI, be sure to follow these recommendations:

•     Begin by trying to lose just one to two pounds per week.

•     Reduce portion sizes.

•     Avoid sugary drinks like sodas, sports drinks and sweetened fruit juices.

•     Eat mostly fruits and vegetables and lean cuts of meat—preferably white meat.

•     Limit the amount of carbohydrates (e.g., baked goods, pasta, bread) you consume.

•     Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.

Also, avoid relying on willpower, trendy dieting fads or “miracle cures” to help you achieve lasting weight loss—long-term success usually requires thoughtful planning, diligent monitoring and sustained motivation. To learn more about your weight-loss options, talk to your healthcare provider.

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