Obesity is a global problem for about one third of the world’s population. In the United States, the conditions of overweight and obesity are more widespread, affecting roughly 68.8% of all adults, a very serious situation. In the long run, obesity affects all people because it drives up medical care costs and is affected by food quality and other factors that spill over from the obese population to the general public. There are solutions, but with roots that are so personal and emotional, even simple solutions are difficult to implement.
Obesity – Facts & Statistics
The problem of obesity in the United States is nationwide, averaging 20 percent in all states. There have been numerous studies about this aspect of human health. As of September, 2016, reports indicate that 25 states have an obesity rate of 30 percent, and 4 states exceed 35 percent. The top rate was found to be in Louisiana, at 36.2 percent, and the lowest rate was in Colorado, at 20.2 percent. This problem is deeper than mere physical discomfort and related financial issues; being obese can contribute to or lead to other diseases or premature death at any age.
While a high number (68.8%) of adults are either overweight or obese, over one-third (35.7 percent) fall into the category of obese, which is a serious medical issue. Men are most likely to be overweight or obese, and extreme obesity is a problem for 1 in 20 adults. Obesity puts additional stress on otherwise normal physical functions of the heart and blood system, including stroke. It also can lead to development of diabetes, another serious medical disease.
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Basic Issues of Obesity
- Facts & Statistics– While a person’s weight generally may be considered to be a personal problem, in reality, the costs of obesity-related illness are staggering, amounting to $190.2 billion, roughly 21 percent of annual medical costs in the U.S. The costs to the individual and their family are also high, especially when personal costs for medical care and the impact of death are calculated. In reality, obesity is not a personal, but a national issue.
- Risks – Risks for becoming overweight or obese are high for all economic classes, especially in the area of economic costs. Risks can affect people differently at different ages. If a child is obese, they are subject to teasing and ridicule by classmates, and they may develop diabetes. Childhood and teenage obesity now affects 17% of that population, up three times in just one generation, and 32% of these children are now either overweight or obese. Adults who are obese may not only develop diabetes, their excess weight is hard on the heart and circulatory systems. They may develop heart disease, which could be fatal or lead to high blood pressure and/or a stroke. Obese persons generally are reducing their lifespan just because of their excessive weight; their heart cannot properly function due to the strain of their weight. .
- Causes – There is no simple cause for overweight and obesity; factors vary by the individual. In some cases, there may be genetic predisposition to being obese and/or diabetic. Many people simply are brought up eating the wrong types of food, either by choice or because they lack the financial ability to purchase more healthy foods due to their socioeconomic status. There is constant exposure to fast food ads and snacks, but those foods are notorious for having additives and other elements that can lead to obesity. In addition to the physical presence and abundance of unhealthy foods, hidden emotional factors can wreck havoc on a person’s physical well-being.When emotions are involved, there can be extremely negative outcomes. One show on television (TLC – The Learning Channel) follows the lives of excessively obese patients of a Houston doctor, Dr. Younan Nowzaradan. These patients generally are from all age groups and most weigh over 600 pounds, with some above 1,000 pounds. Many ultimately do lose enough weight to qualify for gastric bypass or sleeve procedures, but the doctor also addresses their mental state and will not do the surgery until the patients prove their willingness to take responsibility for their condition. Many people were abused as children and then gained weight in an effort to hide from others. Some have been bedridden for years, which means other family members or friends are enablers who bring them the goodies they crave, thus defeating their progress.
Treatment – Many Possibilities
- If emotional stress is a cause for obesity, getting psychotherapy can be helpful as a therapist will work with the patient to uncover long-hidden reasons for their food addictions.
- Surgical treatments, such as gastric bypass or sleeve surgeries drastically decrease the size of the stomach. In some patients, the stomach was football-sized and after surgery, it was more the size of a baseball. This allows the patient to feel fuller quickly and prevents them from overeating.
- Teaching proper eating habits should begin in early school years, so children grow up understanding which foods are best for a healthy lifestyle. Adults also must relearn nutrition and smart food shopping and preparation techniques for best results.
- Getting more exercise is another treatment, as overweight people and those who are extremely obese often are very limited in their physical activity. Before beginning any new exercise program, overweight or obese people should consult with their physician to ensure that the new program does not aggravate other existing medical conditions.
- Eating less and burning more calories can be helpful, but dieting is not always the best solution. Some drastic diets can cause physical harm instead of being helpful.
- Working closely with a health professional is very advisable for anyone who is overweight or obese.
Costs to Everyone – In addition to health consequences for the overweight or obese person, society bears serious economic costs for health care due to obesity-related illnesses. Approximately 21% of yearly medical spending in this country amounts to a whopping $190.2 billion. The medical community is also involved in timely research and weight-related research trials as they seek new solutions for this global dilemma. The food industry also is involved with demands for accurate packaging information and food processing that meets newer government standards aimed at helping consumers know what is in the foods they purchase and consume.
Elements of Successful Obesity Programs
Finding successful treatment for obesity is not a simple task. Individual solutions are required, because each case is unique. There are several methods to pursue prior to recommending a treatment program. Some initial research is required, along with cooperation from the patient and their family. In addition to medical treatment programs, each patient should be assessed for any physical issues they may have, such as existing diseases, family history of weight-related problems, their age, gender, ethnic background, socioeconomic conditions and lifestyle.
- Addressing Root Causes – One of the most important challenges to win is to determine and deal with the root causes for overweight and obesity. Many causes date back to early times in life, such as babyhood and childhood. Teens also have been harmed by outside factors, as well as family issues like genetics, socioeconomic conditions and lifestyle issues. Lack of sufficient exercise combined with even mild overeating can lead to excessive weight gain. A strong will and effort is required to deal with tough emotional issues and responsibility for self-care. Sometimes these matters cannot be dealt with until the person is an adult and away from destructive familial pressures or abuse.
- Know Your BMI – A good place to begin any weight control program is learning about your BMI status and what it means. BMI (body mass index) is an estimate of individual body fat and potential for risk for developing diseases caused by excessive body fat. A higher BMI rate can be an indicator of serious medical conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, gallstones, and some cancers. Calculating your BMI is a simple math problem that you can conduct using online calculators. Results may be skewed if you are athletic with a muscular build or if you are older and have lost muscle.BMI results are fairly easy to understand. If your BMI is below 18.5, you are underweight. A reading of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal. Overweight is 25.0 to 29.9, and Obesity is any reading of 30.0 and above.
- Finding the Right Nutritional Plan – A nutritional plan to resolve weight issues must be customized to the individual. General nutritional plans offer a good start, but the plan should be tweaked to include any special needs a person may have. For example, if someone already has developed diabetes, they may need to eat different foods than other persons who do not have that medical problem. Fast weight loss plans are not always a quick fix guaranteed and may even lead to other medical problems. Get a professional medical opinion from a doctor who is skilled in management of obesity before starting any program. Your results will depend on getting the right management plan, which also should include some exercises as well, to build muscle and burn calories.
- Finding Medical Care –If you are concerned about your weight and health, you may need to work with several types of medical care professionals. Physical issues are just one dimension of this complex problem. Mental and emotional health is very important, especially if the weight issues were sparked by early life abuse. Any program you use should be approved by your general health care physician, to ensure that what you decide to do will not aggravate any existing condition, such as heart disease. There may be clinical trials you are eligible to join; ask your doctor about this possibility. You can help yourself and others with participation; your insurance may cover these programs and the sponsor may include some costs of medical treatment.
- Long Term Prospects – Even losing 5 to 10% of your body weight can improve your chances for a healthier and longer life. Being overweight or obese can drastically reduce your lifespan if left untreated. The excess weight can lead to other physical problems that are even more life-threatening, such as heart disease or diabetes.
Obesity and related medical issues are common, especially in the United States. There is plenty of information available online and through your medical care provider, so there is no reason to not try to resolve this medical issue.
Some parts of the general population are at higher risk for obesity, according to the Journal of American Medicine:
- Highest age-adjusted rates are found in non-Hispanic blacks, at 48.1%. Next highest rates of 42.5% are for Hispanics, then non-Hispanic whites at 34.5%, and much lower rates for non-Hispanic Asians at 11.7%.
- Middle age adults age 30-59 and adults over age 60 have higher obesity rates than younger adults age 20-30.
Other data shows a relationship between income and obesity, with certain populations of men with higher incomes developing weight problems, and the reverse for women. Children are subject to overweight also, with one in five being classified as too heavy for healthy living. Maintaining proper weight levels can improve and extend your lifespan. This is too important to leave to chance or to ignore. Solutions are available that can help you manage your weight sensibly and return to optimum health.
Information is readily available online and from your medical care provider. Take the first step and ask, read about this issue and consider what aspects of the problem may have contributed to your own personal weight health. Taking charge of your weight is not an easy task; fighting simple urges may be your toughest battle, but that battle can be won. Discipline, creativity and trying new food plans can be your greatest strength as you take control of your body and your future health and lifespan opportunity. Take action now, even if you do not currently have any weight problem. As you age and become less active, the pounds can creep on, causing medical problems later on in life. Even a few pounds gained every year can quickly add up to a problem that may create serious problems for you in the future.
- https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/obesity/conditioninfo/pages/risk.aspx (kids)