Obesity is one of the top causes of death in the world, and specifically America.
It is a serious health concern that can lead to other health problems including poor mental health, low quality of life, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, cancer, and death.
Experts say obesity leads to increased mortality. Losing weight will lengthen your life and can help you avoid other illnesses. Losing weight can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
In general, maintaining a healthy weight decreases your overall risk factors for disease.
Obesity, at its simplest, occurs when your Body Mass Index (BMI) exceeds the standard set by health experts.
Physicians and personal trainers may use your BMI as a screening tool to determine whether or not you are overweight or obese. Be aware that the BMI is unable to diagnose overall health. If you want more specific details, visit your health care provider.
The BMI offers a relatively accurate measurement for body fat. It also can be used to assess obesity standards before and during weight loss.
Obesity can be divided into the following categories:
- Normal to overweight: BMI of 30 to < 35.
- Overweight: BMI of 35 to < 40.
- Obese: BMI of 40 or higher.
- Extremely obesity: BMI over 45.
Signs and Symptoms of Obesity
Obesity occurs when your BMI exceeds 40, and when your waist circumference exceeds 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men.
If your clothes have become too tight or you notice a significant amount of weight gain, and you live a fairly inactive lifestyle, you are at risk for obesity. Your health care provider can help you assess your risk status.
One of the most effective techniques for assessing abdominal fat is a combination of waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, and/or an MRI. Excess fat in the abdomen, which may be out of proportion to total body fat, predicts risk factors for obesity.
This measurement provides an acceptable gauge for assessing your abdominal fat before and during weight loss. Studies show that waist circumference is a pretty accurate marker of abdominal fat.
Obesity can sometimes be traced to another medical condition, something extremely rare, such as Cushing syndrome, and other diseases. Antidepressants and steroids can wreak havoc on your metabolism and lead to weight gain.
Always check with your health care provider to find out more about your habits and health history. He or she can determine whether or not you have an illness, specific behavior, or mental health issue that can lead to weight gain.
More than likely, obesity is caused by overeating and inactivity. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, you may consume far more calories than you burn on any given day without realizing it. But obesity is far more complicated than that.
In general, obesity is caused by a combination of factors, including your behavior, genetic makeup, and individual choices.
How and what you eat makes up your dietary pattern. Dining out, especially fast food where they offer sugary drinks and high-calorie, high-carbohydrate, low-nutritional value food, leads to ingesting far more calories than you need and without the necessary fiber, vitamins or minerals.
How and when you participate in physical activity, consume medication, and drink alcohol also can contribute to weight gain.
Here’s food for thought: a popular fast food burger has 540 calories – just the sandwich. If you choose a chicken breast instead, you cut that number by more than half: 231 calories.
Top Treatment Options
You will hear again and again that fad diets don’t work. They may help you lose weight at first, but the only way to sustain a healthy lifestyle is to create one for yourself.
A diet full of fiber-rich food and lean protein combined with regular exercise is your best bet for long-term change.
If you live in a bicycle-friendly city, or a pedestrian-friendly town, you can choose to be more active. Create opportunities where you can exercise. The fresh air does great for your mood as well. Regular exercise can increase bone density and boost your endorphin level.
Managing your health and weight can be as easy as switching to a lower-calorie diet. Swap out your bagel with cream cheese, which has 436 calories, for two scrambled eggs, which have 182 calories.
Increasing your physical activity will help as well, as long as you’re mindful about balancing it with the number of calories coming in.
If you are extremely obese, you can contact your health care provider for specific advice, i.e., surgery or drugs. Keep in mind: if you opt for surgery, you will need lifelong medical consultations to keep from regaining the weight.
An appropriate time line for a ten percent reduction in weight is six months. Losing a pound a week through diet and exercise is a healthy goal. That equals consuming 300-500 fewer calories per day if you have a maximum BMI of 35.
If your BMI hovers above 35, you’ll want to consume 500-1,000 fewer calories per day. It’s easier than you think. For instance, swap out a plate of restaurant fettuccine Alfredo, which has over 1,200 calories, for the spaghetti with marinara sauce, which has about 200.
Alternative/Home Treatment Options
Changing your behavior when it comes to balancing the number of calories coming in with the number your body uses is the most effective way for you to combat obesity.
Fad diets may help you drop pounds quickly, but they also limit your nutritional intake, are unhealthy, and fail in the long run. Unless you change your behavior, the weight will find its way back. Consider Oprah Winfrey and her Optifast failure during the late 1980s.
Creating a plan for yourself that includes a lifestyle change involving your diet and physical activity can lead to weight loss in the range of ten percent over four months up to one year. You can customize your plan to fit your needs.
Keep in mind, no one plan really works better than another. A combination of strategies works best according to obesity studies over the years.
These studies included people with a BMI of 40 or above, and/or a BMI of 35 to 40 trending toward obesity. The evidence shows that a low-calorie diet combined with increased physical activity and regular medical observation led to the most effective and long lasting weight loss.
In short, the most effective way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight relies on your commitment to a lifestyle change with regular physical activity, healthy eating and balancing the number of calories you consume with the number you burn.
From now on, you are in control of your weight and good health.