Overweight and Obesity

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLB), BMI is the common measurement used to determine weight status. Overweight, obesity, and extreme obesity are defined suing BMI as follows:

• Overweight – BMI 25.0-29.9
• Obesity – BMI 30 or above
• Extreme obesity – BMI 40 or above

Determining a Healthy Body Weight

According to the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (conducted between 2005 and 2006), more than 72 million American adults – about 1 in 3 men (or 33.3 percent) and 35.3 percent of women – are currently obese. Among children between the ages of 2 and 19, 16.3 percent are obese. Although obesity rates are still quite high, there was no measurable increase in incidence between 2003 and 2004.

There are many causes of obesity and overweight. A unique interaction between genes and environment contributes to the development of overweight and obesity. For many of us, being genetically susceptible to overweight or obesity coupled with living in an environment that promotes excess consumption of high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods and beverages is destined to cause weight gain that eventually leads to overweight or obesity.

Here are some of the many factors that play key roles in the development of overweight and obesity:

• Increased availability of high-calories, high-fat, and high-sugar foods and beverages that are easy to overconsume.
• Increased portion sizes of foods and beverages, especially those offered at restaurants, fast-food establishments, from vending machines, or wherever food is sold. People tend to consume more when offered larger portions than when offered smaller portions.
• More eating on the run and when distracted. People often consume more calories when they eat away from home, while driving, when listening to music, when socializing, or when otherwise on-the-go.
• Decreased physical activity because of unsafe neighborhoods, a lack of sidewalks or parks, and technological advances that make physical activity less of a necessity (for example, escalators, remote controls, and computers).

Health Implications

Although many people might think of overweight or obesity in terms of appearance, weighing more than what’s recommended can put you at increased risk for a variety of health, psychological, and social problems. Here are some of the many adverse health consequences that are associated with a higher body weight:

• Coronary heart disease
• Type 2 diabetes
• Cancers (including endometrial, breast, and colon)
• Hypertension (high blood pressure)
• Dyslipidemia (high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
• Liver and gallbladder disease
• Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
• Osteoarthritis
• Gynecological problems (including menstrual problems and infertility)

Having excess body fat – especially in your abdominal area – increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease.

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