You’ve probably heard talk over the last few years in the news and online about the “obesity epidemic” in America. And, sadly it’s true. More adults and children today struggle with obesity than ever before. Roughly two out of three U.S. adults (69%) are overweight or obese and one out of three (36%) are obese, which means most Americans are battling risks associated with obesity or know someone who is.
Read on to learn how obesity is categorized, which health problems are linked to obesity, and how losing weight can turn your health around.
What makes a person obese?
A person is considered overweight or obese when their weight is higher than what is considered healthy. One way doctors calculate where someone falls is by using the Body Mass Index (BMI).
BMI is a screening tool for overweight and obesity. Someone with a BMI between 18.5–24.9 is considered a healthy or “normal” weight. A BMI of 25–29.9 falls into the “overweight” category. If a person’s BMI is 30 or higher, they are considered obese.
You can calculate your own BMI using this calculator from the CDC.
What causes obesity, and what are the symptoms?
There are many different risk factors from obesity, but at the most basic level, it occurs when someone regularly takes in more calories than needed. The body stores these excess calories as fat, and over time the extra pounds add up. This can happen in a fairly short amount of time for some, and for others, excess pounds can creep up over a matter of decades.
Aside from visibly carrying excess weight and having a BMI of 30 or higher, there are certain symptoms that people can suffer from that can be linked back to obesity.
These symptoms include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Sleep apnea
- Varicose veins
- Skin problems caused by moisture in skin folds
- Osteoarthritis in weight-bearing joints (especially the knees)
Most experts point the finger at the typical western diet when explaining why so many Americans are obese. The western diet includes large meals high in refined grains, red meat, unhealthy fats, and sugary drinks. It also lacks a lot of the healthy foods our bodies need, like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. These foods contain important nutrients that can help prevent chronic disease.
Poor diet paired with people not getting enough exercise or sleep is causing more Americans to pack on extra pounds. Some demographic groups are also at higher risk, including Non-Hispanic Black adults, who have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of obesity at 49.6%, followed by Hispanic adults at 44.8%.
Health risk factors from obesity
Compared to people in a healthy weight range, people who have obesity are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions.
Obesity is associated with poorer mental health outcomes and reduced quality of life. It’s also linked to the leading causes of death, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.
Disease risk factors from obesity include:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides (Dyslipidemia)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
- Sleep apnea and other breathing problems
- Many types of cancers
- Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders
- Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning
Embracing a healthier lifestyle for weight loss
While losing weight can be a challenge, it is possible with healthy behaviors including regular exercise and healthy eating. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity, as well as activities that strengthen muscles at least two days a week.
Moving your body while also eating a healthy diet that includes lots of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables can help you lose weight and feel healthier.
Overcome obesity with Logansport Memorial Hospital’s HMR Program
You don’t have to live with the outcomes and risk factors from obesity. You can lose weight and reclaim your health. We can help.
Our easy-to-follow, non-surgical weight-loss program Health Management Resources (HMR) will put you on the path to overcoming obesity. The HMR Program is so effective that U.S. News and World Report ranked it the best diet program for fast weight loss when you have a lot of weight to lose.
Our program is not only fast and effective but you’ll be supported by our team of certified health coaches who will be with you every step of the way.
Interested in talking to a health coach or attending an informational session? Call Workforce Health at 574.725.3599.