Obesity: Fight the Odds!

Obesity is defined as a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that is imposes negative effects on a person’s health.  Obesity can lead to reduced life expectancy, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, certain types of cancer and osteoarthritis.  People are considered obese when their body mass index (BMI) is 30 kg/m² or higher.  BMI is determined by dividing a person’s weight by the square of the person’s height.  In 2013, the American Medical Association classified obesity as a disease and it has become the leading preventable cause of death worldwide.  Over 66 million adults in the United States are obese and 74 million are overweight.  Fifteen to 25 percent of American children and adolescents are currently obese and studies show if they are more likely to be obese adults and develop obesity-related health problems.  Recent research indicates that 25.5 percent of Wisconsin adults are obese, 62.4 percent are overweight, and 13.5 percent of Wisconsin children and adolescents are obese. 

There are many factors that contribute to the obesity epidemic.  However, in most cases, it is believed that a combination of excess food intake and physical inactivity are the main contributors.  CBS News reports around one third of children aged four to 19 eat fast food every day in the United States.  Also, in a 2010 report by the Rudd Center for Food Policy it was noted that less than one percent of children’s meals met nutritional standards.  Sedentary lifestyles also play a big role in people who are overweight and obese. A sedentary lifestyle is one with no regular physical activity.  It is recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes or more of moderate physical activity per week and children should get at least one hour of physical activity per day.  Sedentary activities such as sitting, watching television, playing video games, and computer use for the majority of the day have negative health consequences for both children and adults.  According to the book Obesity: Prevention and Treatment, more than 60 percent of American adults do not exercise as recommended and approximately 25 percent of American adults are not active at all.  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states obesity as a contributing factor to approximately 100,000 – 400,000 deaths per year in the United States. There is some research that shows Americans are addressing the obesity concern and anti-obesity efforts are being put in place around the country.  The USA Today reports in 2013 there was a decrease in obesity rates, however there was a significant increase in Americans who fell into the “extremely obese” category.  Extreme obese depicts people who are approximately 100 pounds or more over their recommended weight. 

The World Health Organization is predicting that obesity will replace traditional health concerns such as undernutrition and infectious diseases as the major cause of poor health.  If current trends continue, healthcare costs associated with obesity could total $861 to $957 billion by 2030, which is 16-18 percent of the total United States health expenditures. 

Now is the time to take control of your and your family’s health. Learn more about healthy eating and exercise and make it a priority every day. If you are one of those who feel like you’ve tried everything and can’t reach or maintain a healthy weight, consider speaking with your doctor, a weight loss professional or a bariatric surgeon to discuss your options.