? The Obesity Epidemic

As most of us are aware, the obesity problem in America (and many other countries as well) is truly a problem of ‘epic proportions’ (no pun intended).  To understand the true size of the American obesity epidemic, we first need to understand what it really means to be overweight.

Generally, doctors and nutritionists classify people as either underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese.  These different classifications are determined by body mass index (BMI), or the percentage of fat an individual has on his or her body.

As for what is driving America’s chronic weight problem, there are no definite answers.  Scientific studies often reach conflicting conclusions, meaning many theories are out there, but the preponderance of evidence points to the two causes most people already suspect:

  1. Too MUCH food
  2. Too LITTLE exercise

Just in the United States alone (2013 study), the obesity prevalence was as follows:

  • More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. [Journal of American Medicine (JAMA)]
    • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. [Read guidelines]
    • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. [Read summary]
  • No state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%
  • 7 states and the District of Columbia had a prevalence of obesity between 20% and <25%
  • 23 states had a prevalence of obesity between 25% and <30%
  • 18 states had a prevalence of obesity between 30% and <35%
  • 2 states (Mississippi and West Virginia) had a prevalence of obesity of 35% or greater
  • The South had the highest prevalence of obesity (30.2%), followed by the Midwest (30.1%), the Northeast (26.5%), and the West (24.9%)
  • The prevalence of obesity was 27.0% in Guam and 27.9% in Puerto Rico

These statistics are indeed alarming, and the problem is that these numbers are trending in a further upward direction annually.

? Body Mass Index (BMI) Definition

BMI is a useful measure of overweight and obesity.  It is calculated from your height and weight.  BMI is an estimate of body fat and a good gauge of your risk for diseases that can occur with more body fat.

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In order to see where each of us stand relative to these statistics, one simple method for determining one’s weight status is by means of the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculation.

The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.

Although BMI can be used for most men and women, it does have some limits:

  • It may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build
  • It may underestimate body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle

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Your BMI is based on your height and weight – here are the categories:

  • BMI is LESS than 18.5 >>> UNDERWEIGHT
  • BMI is 18.5 to 24.9 >>> HEALTHY/NORMAL WEIGHT
  • BMI is 25.0 to 29.9 >>> OVERWEIGHT
  • BMI is 30.0 or more >>> OBESE

? CLICK HERE to calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI)

>>> http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm

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? Obesity-related Diseases and Conditions

Obesity is linked to rising U.S. rates of dozens of chronic illnesses and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer:

  • Diabetes: An imbalanced diet and a lack of exercise can cause insulin resistance and full-fledged type 2 diabetes. Like obesity, the rate of diabetes have risen nearly 70% since 1995.
  • Cardiovascular disease: This disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and obesity is the leading risk factor. In 2007, one-quarter of all U.S. deaths were from heart disease.
  • Cancer: A close second behind heart disease as the leading cause of death in America, obesity contributes to many types of cancer. In fact, weight gain and obesity are considered a contributing factor in 20% of new cancer diagnoses.
  • Depression: Numerous studies have suggested a link between depression, obesity, and weight gain, especially among children.
  • Reproduction: Research indicate obesity reduces fertility rates and increases the chance of miscarriage in pregnant women.
  • Respiratory disease: Sleep apnea and obesity hypoventilation syndrome are more common in overweight individuals, as is asthma.
  • Cognitive health: Neurologist have identified a link between obesity and cognitive decline, including memory loss and thinking skills.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders: Obesity is a leading cause of arthritic pain, injuries, and atrophy in muscles and joints, often in the knee, ankle, foot, and shoulder.