Obesity (First in a Series)
In case you haven’t listened to any media in the past several years, or paid any attention to the people you pass on the streets, you may not be aware that obesity is a problem of epidemic proportion in the United States. According to the National Institutes of Health, 60% of American adults are overweight and 35% are considered obese, while about 25% of American children are overweight or obese. And the numbers are rising. In fact, if current trends continue, more than half of American adults are likely to be obese by 2030.
Obesity is a complex condition, one with serious social and psychological consequences. It affects virtually all age and socioeconomic groups and threatens to overwhelm both developed and developing countries. . It may not be a new phenomenon in the world, but it is certainly one of today’s most urgent pandemics, so much so that pundits have coined a new term to describe it; “golbesity.”
Obesity, which tends to occur in women more than men (but only slightly), poses a major worldwide health risk. Someone who is 40% overweight is twice as likely to die prematurely as is a normal-weight person. Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death and disability for the overweight. First of all, the obese are more likely to have high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. They also tend to have very high levels of cholesterol which can also lead to heart disease and stroke. Another very common obesity related disease is diabetes, which reduces your body’s ability to control blood sugar and is a major cause of heart disease, stroke, and blindness.
It’s tempting to say that obesity is a self-inflicted injury, because at the heart of it, if you take in more calories than you burn up, you are going to gain weight. However, obesity is a much more complex problem that can have a multitude of causes. WebMd sums it up well:
• Your emotions and habits.
o Many factors influence eating behavior, including emotions, habits, and the availability of food.
• Your lifestyle.
o Modern conveniences-such as elevators, cars, and the remote control cut activity out of our lives.
• Your genes.
o If one of your parents is obese, you are 3 times as likely to be obese as someone with parents of healthy weight.
• Your friends and family.
o If they eat a lot of high-fat or snack foods, eat at irregular times, and skip meals, you probably will too.
• Low self-esteem.
o Being overweight or obese may lower your self-esteem and lead to eating as a way to comfort yourself. Repeated failure at dieting also can affect your self-esteem and make it even harder to lose weight.
• Emotional concerns.
o Emotional stress, anxiety, or illnesses such as depression or chronic pain can lead to overeating.
o Distressing events-such as childhood sexual, physical, or emotional abuse; loss of a parent during
childhood; Or marital or family problems-can contribute to overeating.
o Alcohol (beer and mixed drinks) is very high in calories.
• Medicines or medical conditions.
o Some medical conditions and medicines may also cause weight gain. Examples include having Cushing’s syndrome or hypothyroidism or taking certain antidepressants or corticosteroids.
So, what do you do? Again the answer to that is complex. The intuitive response is to eat fewer calories and exercise more, but as we can see above, if it were really that easy we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
Over the next few days, we will look at and evaluate several different methods weight reduction. I hope you come back for these blogs and contribute to the discussion.