Last updated: August 13. 2014 8:56AM - 84 Views
Margaret Brackett Contributing Columnist



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The United States is the second most obese industrialized country in the world. A 2013 report stated that 31.8 percent of Americans were obese. Obesity accounts for 10 percent of deaths and healthcare spending in the United States.


Obesity is a complex disorder involving excessive amount of body fat. Obesity is not just a cosmetic concern. It increases your risk of diseases and health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.


Being obese means you are especially likely to have health problems related to your weight: Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer — including cancer of uterus, ovaries, breast cancer, rectum, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney and prostrate. When you are obese, your quality of life may be lower — depression, disability, lower work achievement.


Obesity is likely when an individual’s body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. Your body mass index is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms (kg) by your height in meters (m) squared. World Health Organization uses a classification system using the (BMI) body mass index to define obesity:


BMI Weight Status


18.5-24.9 = Normal


25.0-29.9 = Overweight


30.0-34.9 = Obese (class l)


35.0-39.9 = Obese (class 2)


40.0+ = Extremely Obese (class 3)


It is important to understand what “healthy weight” means. Healthy weight is defined as a body mass index (BMI) equal to or greater than 19 and less than 25 among all people 20 years of age or over. Generally, obesity is defined as a body mass index equal to or greater than 30, which approximates 30 pounds of excess weight.


If you think you may be obese, and especially if you are concerned about weight-related health problems, discuss your weight-loss options with your doctor.


Your effort to overcome obese is more likely to be successful if you follow strategies at home in addition to your formal treatment plans. These can include:


• Learning about your condition.


• Setting realistic goals


• Enlisting support


• Identifying and avoiding food triggers .Distract yourself from desire to eat with something positive.


• Practice saying “no” to unhealthy foods and large portions


• Eat when you are actually hungry


• Keep a record of food and activity log (eating and exercise habits)


• Take medication as directed and prescribed.


The good news is that even modest weight loss can improve or prevent health problems associated with obesity. Dietary changes, increased physical activity and behavior changes can help you lose weight. Prescription medication or weight-loss surgery also may be options for treating obesity.


A person only has to turn on the news to discover three things about obesity: First, America is becoming increasingly obese. Second, obesity kills, and thirdly, the latest group to be affected by obesity is the group that has the least control over their health is children.


South Carolina is in the elite of having one of the highest percent obesity in the nation: 31.6 percent of South Carolinians are considered medically obese. In 1995 health care cost due to obesity was 52 billion. In 2003, that number rose to 75 billion.


More than a third of U.S. adults are obese. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health have collaborated to develop the F as in Fat report. According to their 2013 report, South Carolina is ranked seventh among all 50 states in the United States with 31.6 percent of the South Carolina population classified as obese.


South Carolina ranks number two in the highest rates of obesity among children, 10-17 year old, with 21.5 percent of children among this age group classified as obese. According to DHEC County Health Indicator data, 46 percent of Newberry County adults, ages 20 and older, are considered obese.


In November 2013, the United States was the second most obese industrialized nation with 31.8 falling into the obese category. Mexico was first at 32 percent. According to the World-Health Organization 2013 fact sheet “Obesity & Overweight” obesity rates worldwide have almost doubled since 1980 accounting for over 300 million men and 200 million women.. Obesity related health care cost almost ten percent of annual medical spending in the US, totaling $147 billion in 2008.


Physical activity and proper nutrition are critical in the prevention of overweight and obesity. According to the 2009 SC Behavioral Risk Factor data, 53.4 percent of Newberry County adults reported not meeting the physical activity recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.


In that same survey, 81.2 percent of Newberry County adults reported that they did not consume at least two fruits and three vegetables each day.


In addition to making healthy food choices, it is important to be physically active. Regular physical activity can reduce a person’s risk of chronic diseases and help improve their overall health and fitness. How much physical activity is required for improved health?


The Centers for Disease Control recommends that children get 60 minutes of physical activity every day and adults should get approximately 150 minutes of physical activity every week. While that may seem like a lot of time, it does not need to be done all at once. Break it up into smaller units over the course of the day. Choose activities that you enjoy and make it a part of your daily routine. By making a few small changes over time, individuals can improve their overall health and reduce their risk of obesity and other chronic conditions.


Is Obesity a Disease?


Proponents contend that obesity is a disease because it meets the definition of disease, it decreases life expectancy, impairs the normal functioning of the body, and it can be caused by genetic factors. Opponents contend that obesity is not a disease because it is a preventable risk factor for other diseases; is the result of eating too much, and is caused by exercising too little.


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