What is obesity? Healthcare Practitioners use the concept of Body Mass Index or BMI – a weight-to-height ratio – to determine if someone is overweight or obese. Here is the actual breakdown of the BMI Categories:
According to 2007 obesity statistics, the heaviest states in the US are Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, where more than 30% of adults are obese (+30% BMI). The same statistics indicated that the least overweight state in the US is Colorado, where 18.7% of adults are obese.
Waist circumference is another factor that is a widely used measurement to determine a person’s healthy weight. An excess of abdominal fat, when out of proportion to a person’s total body fat, is considered a predictor of other risk factors related to obesity. Men with a waist measurement exceeding 40 inches are considered at risk, and women are considered at risk when their waist exceeds 35 inches.
We have all heard on the news that obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. But what does that mean exactly? Data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics indicate that the prevalence of obesity has increased from 12.8% in 1976-1980 to 22.5% in 1988-1994 and 30% in 1999-2000.
Nearly 31% of American adults (59 million Americans) currently fall under the definition of obese, while 64% of American adults (121 million) meet the medical definition of overweight.
Beyond the breakdown of the overall statistical numbers, there are some internal obesity statistics that help to define this issue further. Among 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) respondents:
- 26.4% of men and 24.8% of women were obese.
- Obesity tends to worsen as people age: at 18-29 years of age, 19.1% of men and women are obese. By 50-59 years of age, 31.7% of men and 30.2% of women are obese.
- By race/ethnicity and sex the obesity prevalence was highest for non-Hispanic black women (39.0%) followed by non-Hispanic black men (32.1%).
- The obesity prevalence was higher in the South (27.3%) and Midwest (26.5%) and lower in the Northeast (24.4%) and West (23.1%).
THE HEALTH PROBLEMS OBESITY CAUSES
Obesity is not just an issue of pounds. Obesity has been proven to lead to many severe health problems and diseases, including:
- Sleep Apnea
- Gallbladder Disease
- Heart Disease
- And some types of Cancer
THE RELATIONSHIP OF DIABETES AND OBESITY
Medical science has drawn a definitive relationship between people who are overweight and the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. It is a documented fact that almost 90% of people who have type-2 diabetes are overweight.
The number of diabetes cases among American adults increased by one third during the 1990s. The rapid increase in diabetes during the 1990s closely mirrored the increase in the rate of obesity and being overweight, in the general US population. Due to the rise in obesity in the general population over the last few years, the frequency of diabetes is expected to continue to increase at these astonishing rates.
Added body weight puts pressures on the body’s ability to properly control blood sugar through the production of insulin; this is why being overweight makes it more likely for you to develop type-2 diabetes. Simply put, carrying extra body weight and body fat has been proven to establish the framework for the development of type-2 diabetes.
THE RELATIONSHIP OF OBESITY TO CANCER
There exists considerable evidence to suggest that obesity and extra weight play an important role in the development of many cancers. The following cancers have been shown to have a strong relationship between extra body weight and body fat to the development of the cancer:
- Kidney cancer in both men and women (two-fold increased relative risk)
- Endometrial cancer in women (one and a half-fold relative risk)
- Postmenopausal breast cancer (two-fold relative risk)
The following cancers have shown a growing base of medical science evidence that connect body weight and body fat to the development of the cancer:
- Colorectal cancer (due in part to low physical activity)
- Gall bladder cancer
- Thyroid cancer in women
- Esophageal cancer (possibly due to obesity’s association with gastric reflux)
- Prostate cancer (inconsistent findings)
For other types of cancer, too few studies have been conducted to draw any significant conclusions about any relationship between obesity and risk of disease development. One theory is that fat cells store hormones, and toxins, these toxins can affect the immune system.
Strong experimental research in animal models has shown that maintenance of normal body weight can delay the development of cancer. This research has not yet been extended to human trials.
Causes of Obesity
Eating too much and not exercising enough causes obesity. Our reliance on fast foods greatly contribute to obesity and numerous other health conditions.Bigger portion sizes, little time to exercise or cook healthy meals, are just a few causes of obesity.
Other obesity causes include:
- Cultural and Socioeconomic Conditions
- Genetic Factors
- Endocrine, Hypothalamus, and Neurotransmitter Imbalance
- Lack of Exercise
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO COMBAT OBESITY
Stand up; walk down the street and then around the block. Yes, our sedentary lifestyles are one of the primary reasons why America’s waistlines are growing at such astonishing rates.
Skip the second trip through the buffet and eat more healthy foods. We eat too much, and we eat too much junk food. We should put down the Twinkies and eat more fruits and vegetables. We need to give up McDonalds and trade the Olive Garden for restaurants that offer more healthy foods, or just eat at home so that we know exactly what is in every plate of food we eat.
Of course, if we are so inclined, we can turn to one of the many diet plans that are offered by food companies, such as Weight Watchers or NutriSystem. These food plans have been designed specifically to help us to eat healthy and to lose weight by helping us to eat the right foods in the right portions.
WEIGHT LOSS DRUGS
Fortunately, there are prescription drugs available to help people lose weight, to be used primarily when other methods do not produce the desired results. All of the prescription weight loss drugs work by suppressing the appetite.
As far as prescription drugs, we will only mention those that are FDA-approved, because there many famous weight loss drugs that are no longer available, due to unexpected side-effects related to those drugs. Three of the drugs that have been removed from the marketplace are Fen-phen (available 1992-1997), Dexfenfluramine (Redux) (available 1996-1997), and Ephedra (banned in 2004).
The prescription drugs used most often today are: Xenical (orlistat) (approved in 1999), Meridia (sibutramine) (approved in 1997), Bontril (phendimetrazine tartrate), Desoxyn (methamphetamine), Ionamin and Adipex-P (phentermine).
Weight Loss Supplements
Natural weight loss supplements have grown in demand, as more and more people swear off pharmaceutical drugs. Given the previous track record with drugs such as Fen-phen, Dexfenfluramine and Ephedra, it is understandable that people may want to use weight loss supplements, rather than weight loss drugs.
Some of the most common supplements include: Appetite Suppressants, Carb Blockers, Cellulite Treatment, Cutting Gels, Diuretics, Energy Boosters, Fat Blockers, Fat Burners, Green Tea, Hoodia Diet Pills, Hoodia Patches, Metabolism Boosters, and Thyroid Balance supplements.
Some of these items are new on the marketplace, but some like Green Tea have been around for thousands of years.
Given the medical concerns with illnesses and diseases developed as the result of obesity and extra weight, it should be the imperative of most readers who are overweight to find ways to drop the extra weight.
We recommend everyone to clean up his or her diet and get some exercise.
If you are doing all of the right things to lose weight, then we recommend that working with your practitioner to find the right combination of drugs or supplements to help you to lose that extra weight.