Experts agree, far too many Americans are overweight or obese. This has
serious implications for your good health, the quality of your life and
how long you will live.
Recent surveys reveal about 69 percent of American adults are overweight
or obese. Of these, 78 million people are considered obese.
Obesity means you have too much body fat. This is different from being
overweight, which means you weigh too much. Your weight comes from more
than just body fat. It also includes muscle, bone and body water.
“It’s important for each of us to understand, if we manage
our weight and are active, we can control the majority of the health problems
that have become so common among adults in our country today,” said
Vijaya Dudyala, MD, a primary care doctor with Washington Township Medical
Foundation’s Nakamura Clinic in Union City.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIHLBI ), “being
overweight or obese are linked to increased risk of high cholesterol,
high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes (high blood
sugar), certain cancers and other chronic conditions.”
What about you?
To find out whether you are overweight or obese, start by calculating
your body mass index (BMI). This is determined by comparing how much you
weigh to how tall you are. It will tell you if you are at a healthy weight
for your height.
To calculate your BMI, go online to the NIHLBI website at www.nhlbi.nih.gov
and search for the body mass index calculator.
Here’s what your BMI means:
- Less than 18.5 – You are underweight.
- 18.5 to 24.9 – You are at a normal weight.
- 25 to 29.9 – You are overweight.
- Equal to or great than 30 – You are obese.
“Multiple studies show that all-cause mortality, which is the rate
of death due to all possible causes, including cancer, increases in people
who are obese,” reported Dr. Dudyala.
Another way to determine whether you are at a healthy weight is called
truncal obesity, which is based on the circumference of your waistline.
If your waist measures more than 35 inches in women or 40 inches in men,
you are at increased risk of obesity-related health complications, such
as heart disease and diabetes.
What it means for your health
The NIHLBI recommends everyone who is overweight or obese “should
receive counseling on diet, physical activity, behavioral modification
and goals for weight loss.”
Keeping your weight at a normal level helps prevent high blood pressure
and heart disease. It also helps you avoid having metabolic syndrome,
which is a group of disorders that includes high blood pressure, high
blood sugar, excess body fat at your waistline, and abnormal cholesterol
and triglyceride levels in your blood. Having two or more of these conditions
means you are at increased risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
According to Dr. Dudyala, if you are obese, you are also at risk of developing
obesity hypoventilation syndrome (OHS). The higher your BMI, the greater
chance you may suffer from OHS.
People with this condition aren’t taking enough breaths per minute
so the amount of oxygen entering their lungs is reduced. This results
in decreased levels of oxygen and increased levels of carbon dioxide in
the blood. It is important that OHS be diagnosed and treated as soon as
possible, because there is a high death rate among OHS patients who go
Most people with OHS also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, which causes
them to stop breathing for short periods many times while sleeping. Both
OHS and obstructive sleep apnea tend to put a strain on the heart.
How to lose weight successfully
“So many people who lose weight by dieting tend to regain those
pounds when they stop dieting,” observed Dr. Dudyala. “You
are more likely to be successful at losing weight and keeping it off if
you believe in yourself and your ability to take control of your personal
The best approach is to start by creating a weight loss plan. Be sure to
include a program of regular exercise along with diet modification. You
may wish to talk with your doctor about the best plan for you.
“It is very important that you set a realistic weight-loss goal for
yourself,” advised Dr. Dudyala. “To begin with, set a goal
of losing 5 to 7 percent of your body weight. Don’t start by limiting
your focus to the ultimate goal of your ideal body weight. Rather, take
small steps with realistic objectives that will enable you to reach your
ideal weight. ”
Keep in mind that, to reach a healthy weight, you need to balance the calories
in the foods you eat and drink with the calories you burn up when you
move. If you burn more calories than you take in, you will lose weight.
Remember to focus on losing weight gradually over the long term, and set
interim goals for yourself. Assess your progress frequently and modify
your goals, if necessary.
For more information about weight management, go to the website of the
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at www.nhlbi.nih.gov. For more
information about Washington Township Medical Foundation, go to www.mywtmf.com.