It’s not too strong to say that obesity has become a national epidemic.
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than one third of American adults are obese, with over 5% being extremely obese. As for the kids, well, more than 1 in 6 children and adolescents are obese.
Obesity is defined as weighing 20% or more above normal weight or having a body mass index (BMI) above 30. Morbid obesity means being more than 100 pounds above normal weight or having a BMI of 40 or higher.
Obesity is associated with a number of diseases and conditions, including:
- Heart disease and stroke
- High blood pressure
- Gall bladder disease
- Some cancers
- Sleep problems
- Breathing problems
Factors Promoting Obesity
Obesity itself is a complex disease for which there is no clear cause or cure except for the obvious ones: You gain weight by ingesting more calories than you burn off, and you cure yourself by losing the excess weight in a healthy, gradual way.
Obesity is promoted by a number of factors, including unhealthy eating habits, a low-exercise lifestyle, low self-esteem, stress and anxiety, excess alcohol, and some medicines and medical conditions.
Another main factor is the sheer amount of food that is so readily available in today’s society. For instance, the proliferation of super-sized meals found in many restaurants is an invitation to obesity.
Eating healthy is one of the best ways to prevent obesity and help avoid health problems such as heart disease and high blood pressure. The Harvard School of Public Health maintains that to prevent obesity, both the quantity and the quality of what you eat are important.
Quantity means controlling your portion sizes and calorie intake. Quality means enjoying a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet. But watch the protein you eat. Eating red meat and processed meat is associated with weight gain. To control weight and for your general health, try to eat more protein in the form of beans, nuts, fish, or poultry.
Eat whole grains that are not highly processed, such as brown rice, whole wheat, and barley. And eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are naturally low in calories.
It’s also important to avoid too much sugar. Sugar-sweetened soft drinks are a big culprit fostering obesity. A systematic meta-analysis of 88 studies published in the American Journal of Public Health found clear associations between drinking sugary soft drinks and increased weight.
Get Sufficient Exercise
Exercise is another key to maintaining normal weight. Exercise also boosts energy and improves mood, and it’s important for overall good health. Regular exercise at the gym or at home on an exercise bike, treadmill, or elliptical can burn a lot of calories. But just becoming more active during the day can do a lot of good, too. Walk more, take the steps instead of the elevator. Make it a challenge and make it fun. But don’t overdo it. It won’t help you lose weight if you strain a muscle and have to avoid exercise for a time. And be sure to consult with your doctor about the proper exercise program for you.
Your Take-Home Message:
Being obese is an unhealthy condition that the individual can usually go a long way toward avoiding or healing. The secret is actually no secret at all: eat right, don’t eat too much, and get your exercise. The bonus is that doing these things not only helps prevent obesity, which is a health bonus in itself, but it also promotes your health in a myriad of other important ways.
Until next time, please be well!