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Be as Healthy as You Can Be-Manage Your Weight

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 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 untreated.

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 health.”

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.

Learn more

For more information about weight management, go to the website of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at For more information about Washington Township Medical Foundation, go to