Overcoming Obesity And Overweight

Getting the straight skinny on sensible long-term weight loss, from risk factors to healthy dieting and how much exercise is necessary.

The body needs fat for warmth, shock absorption, and just-in-case energy. Losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of body weight can improve health outcomes. Goals need to be realistic and change consistently over time to achieve results.

The Risk Factors for Being Overweight Include Environment

The amount of fat storage and areas of the body affected may be determined by genetics. Family history also plays a role in learned patterns of eating behavior, as do culture and economic status. Older age goes along with reduced activity for most overweight individuals, who may have established sedentary lifestyles as children.

A fast-paced society pressures people to drive around the block and creates excuses to overindulge in snacks high in fat, salt, and sugar instead of cooking more nutritious meals. Insufficient sleep is associated with weight gain, as are some medications that stimulate the appetite. Quitting smoking improves a person’s sense of taste and smell, requiring vigilance to avoid weight gain.

One-Third of Adult Americans are Obese

That translates to 72 million people in the United States, according to The Obesity Society. Body mass index is a commonly used criterion to determine overweight and obesity by calculating body weight in relation to height in metric measurements. Weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared is the BMI formula; those for whom math is a challenge can use an online calculator. The World Health Organization defines a BMI between 25 and 29.9 as overweight, between 30 and 39.9 as obese, and a BMI over 40 as morbidly obese.

Elevated BMI is Associated With Chronic Health Conditions

Where fat is carried is important. Visceral fat or belly fat consists of adipose deposits in and between the abdominal organs. Visceral fat cells tend to be large, secrete chemicals, and proliferate rapidly. Belly fat poses a greater risk to health than the kind that can be pinched, such as fat deposited under the skin around the waist.

Increased belly fat and high BMI are associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, coronary artery disease, stroke, sleep apnea, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, infertility, pregnancy complications, and some types of cancer.

Excess Calories Produce Fat

It takes 3,500 calories to gain 1 lb. of fat. That means dropping only 250 calories a day can affect a weight loss of half a pound a week. Losing one pound a week can be accomplished by taking in 500 calories less per day. Keeping a food diary may help pinpoint high-calorie foods like sodas and chips that dieters can exchange for healthier water, low-fat proteins, high fiber vegetables, fruit, or whole grains.

Adding exercise while reducing calories helps to preserve muscle mass. Birn suggests a minimum of two and a half hours per week of moderate exercises, such as walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week.

Positive Coping Mechanisms Aid Weight Loss

Healthy ways to manage stress may not come naturally to someone fighting the stigma of obesity in society. Cultivation of a social network or support group and regular monitoring increase motivation. Educating others helps develop a positive self-image.

Millions of Americans are overweight or obese. Extra pounds are associated with health risks. Eating fewer calories and becoming more active need to become a way of life and a state of mind in order to achieve lasting results.