An increasing number of people are becoming overweight, which can lead to many serious health problems, even premature death. Here’s how to escape the epidemic.
As we continue to modernize our lifestyles — riding instead of walking, working in a cubicle instead of in a field, playing iPods instead of sports, drinking energy drinks instead of fresh juices — more people are becoming overweight and, worse, obese. In fact, there are so many overweight and obese people that some public health officials now call it an epidemic, particularly because of the many resulting health problems.
Obesity: A Worldwide Problem
Around the world, more than one billion adults are overweight and about 300 million of them are obese. In the United States, 66 percent of all adults are overweight and, of those, 32 percent are obese.
Obesity levels in Japan and some African nations are below 5 percent, but they’re rising. Obesity rates in China overall are not high, but in some of that country’s larger cities, rates are up 20 percent.
Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions, too. The number of overweight children in the United States has doubled since 1980, and for teens, it’s tripled. And the problem with children is now a global issue as well.
Obesity: Why It’s Happening
Although your genes play a role in your body weight, there are other factors involved. In many places around the world, particularly the United States, we have plenty of nutrient-rich food to eat and easy access to fattening fast foods and sweets. Also, because of our modern lifestyles, we are not as active as we once were. The end result: We’re eating more calories than we can burn.
Being overweight or obese can cause a whole cascade of health problems, from heart disease and diabetes to stroke and even some types of cancer. These diseases can seriously impact a person’s quality of life and lead to premature death.
Obesity: How It Differs From Being Overweight
Obesity and overweight are terms used to describe a level of excess weight that’s considered unhealthy for your body size. One way to determine if you are overweight or obese is to figure out your body mass index (BMI), a calculation you make by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters (kg/m2). Don’t worry — you don’t have to do the math; you can find BMI calculators online.
Note that for adults:
A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight
A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese
When assessing teens and children, BMIs that are higher than normal weight ranges have other labels, such as “at risk of overweight” and “overweight.” Also, health professionals take into account the differences in body fat between boys and girls as well as changes in body fat at different ages.
Obesity: Finding a Solution
Getting our obesity and overweight epidemic under control will involve more than just telling everyone to go on a diet. The World Health Organization says it requires an integrated approach that includes:
– Promoting healthy eating habits and encouraging exercise
– Developing public policies that promote access to healthy, low-fat, high-fiber foods
– Training healthcare professionals so that they can effectively support people who need to lose weight and help others avoid gaining weight
Here’s what you can do to lose weight or avoid becoming overweight or obese:
– Eat more fruit, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.
– Exercise, even moderately, for at least 30 minutes a day.
– Cut down your consumption of fatty and sugary foods.
– Use vegetable-based oils rather than animal-based fats.
So walk a little more, eat a little less — and do what you need to do to maintain a healthy BMI. (everydayhealth)