Obesity is a health concern that leads to reduced life expectancy, along with a myriad of other chronic health problems. Body mass index (BMI) is the scale commonly used to measure whether or not someone is obese by comparing their weight and height. This determines if they are of a healthy weight, obese or morbidly obese. Generally, obesity is caused by a lack of physical activity, excessive caloric intake and genetic susceptibility.
Health Problems Associated with Obesity
Obesity tops the list of leading preventable diseases. An average healthy BMI is in the range of 22.5 to 25. Anyone with a BMI over 25 is considered to be obese, with studies finding that people with a BMI over 32 is associated with a doubled mortality rate. On an average, obesity reduces life expectancy by 6 to 7 years. A BMI in the range of 30 to 35 is shown to reduce life expectancy by 2 to 4 years, while more severe obesity with a BMI greater than 40 has been shown to reduce life expectancy by 20 years for men and 5 years for women.
There are many health problems that are associated with being obese including:
- heart disease
- type 2 diabetes
- certain kinds of cancer
- sleep apnea
Type 2 diabetes is the strongest linked condition to obesity, with excess body fat being the underlying factor in 77% of type 2 diabetes cases in women and 64% of type 2 cases in men.
Obesity has also been shown to be an underlying factor in depression and a feeling of social stigmatization. It has also been proven to be a contributing factor to:
- poor mobility
- lower back pain
- chronic renal failure
- urinary incontinence
- erectile dysfunction
Dealing with Obesity
In America, most problems with obesity directly relate to overeating and eating the wrong kinds of food. The typical Western diet is made up of a lot of processed foods subsidized by the corn, soy, rice and wheat industries that make them much cheaper than the healthier fruits and vegetables. Additionally, a sedentary lifestyle is a key contributor to obesity, as much of the country has moved away from laborious jobs and do not take part in regular physical activity.
Dieting and exercise are the best ways to promote weight loss. Eating a healthy low-fat diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats is the best way to manage a weight problem. Portion control and upping the amount of physical activity are also key factors.
A healthy diet, combined with regular exercise 3 to 5 times a week, is the best plan to get started. Exercise can be any physical activity that gets the heart rate elevated for a period of time. This can include walking, swimming, running or any other sport that is enjoyable to you. Making some lifestyle changes is crucial to your weight loss success, and finding an exercise routine that you can stick with is key. By varying your workouts and improving your diet, you can work to improve your health and lower your risk of obesity related diseases.