Obesity & Health Risks

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What determines obesity?

Although the exact definition of obesity is somewhat controversial, it can be explained as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. The term obesity implies an excess of adipose (connective tissue packed with fat cells), but the meaning of excess is hard to define as well. Obesity is any degree of excess adiposity that creates a health risk. Obesity is an epidemic in the United States and continues to increase among men and women of all races and socioeconomic groups. Twenty to 30 percent of adult men and 30 to 40 percent of adult women are obese, with the highest rates among the lower income and minority groups. Approximately 300,000 people die of obesity every year in this country and it is now the second most preventable cause of death. Even mildly overweight people are at increased risk of a wide range of health problems. Because of the frequency of obesity and its health consequences, its prevention and treatment should be a higher public health priority.
The consequences are not only medical. Excess body fat can also hinder your social and personal relationships, thus causing emotional stress. You may also face difficulty in finding employment, and must bear the trouble and expense of obtaining special clothing. In all these ways and more, obesity makes it difficult for you to have a normal happy and healthy life.

Obesity is a condition, not a character flaw. The most important cause of obesity is a person’s genetics. It is the one thing relative to obesity that a person can’t change. Another important cause is a person’s lifestyle. That includes eating habits and exercise patterns.

Health Risks
Obesity can cause a wide variety of health problems including:
a.) Cardiovascular disease, including sudden death, stroke, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease
b.) Hypertension
c.) Type II diabetes
d.) Colon cancer
e.) A variety of pulmonary complications
f.) Musculoskeletal problems, including degenerative joint and disc disease
g.) Chronic venous insufficiency and leg ulcers
h.) Gastroesophageal reflux disease, liver and gallbladder disease
i.) Reproductive abnormalities and infertility
j.) Depression, poor self-esteem and isolation

The severely obese have a far greater risk of dying before age 45 than the average medium build person.

Obesity has a direct relationship to the development of heart disease in both men and women due to the increase in body fat distribution. Hypertension is approximately three times more common in obese than normal weight persons. This relationship is simply due to the fact that when weight increases, so does blood pressure.

How to fight obesity

There is no magic pill. A change in lifestyle is necessary, not a special diet. The two best remedies are exercise and self-control with regards to food intake.

The eating habits of a lifetime are not easily changed. Limit your intake of fatty acids founds in such foods such as processed foods, cookies, potato chips and fast food meals. Choose more healthy items such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and poultry or fish.

Exercise! There is no doubt about it; exercise is absolutely essential to combating obesity. As little as 30 minutes a day of exercise is enough make a difference. Most people who are sedentary and begin to exercise make the mistake of overdoing it right away. Starting any exercise program brings on aches and pains in muscles and joints. Many people stop exercising and never restart because of this. The safe and sure way is to exercise for less than you feel you can do for about 2-3 weeks. You are not rushing to reach a goal but to establish a pattern of healthy activity you can live with for the rest of your life. Try several different things. Walking is a great way to start. You have all the equipment you need. Then you can try a bicycle or walking up and down hills. Remember, you are in no rush to get anywhere. As with any exercise program, it is recommended that you consult your physician in advance.

Limit cholesterol to 300 (mg) a day and 200 (mg) a day for people with heart disease or high blood pressure.

Obesity can be prevented early on. When a child begins to gain noticeable weight at age 4 rather than 8, parents should take action. Be sure they are getting a well balanced diet and plenty of exercise. Many obese individuals were obese children. The longer the condition is allowed to continue, the harder it is to reverse it.