Getting the Skinny on a Huge Problem
New obesity classification pushes for more awareness and preventionThe American Medical Association announced on June 18 that obesity has been officially classified as a disease, which has reached epidemic levels in the United States in both adults and children.
According to the CDC, the prevalence of obesity in the late 1970s in the U.S. was 15 percent. By 2004, that number had doubled and reached 32.5 percent. The percentage of young people who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980, according to the National Center of Health Statistics.
An adult is considered overweight with a body mass index (BMI) is between 25.0 and 29.9 and obese with a BMI of 30.0 or more. (This number can be calculated by multiplying your weight in pounds by 703. Then, divide that number by your height in inches.)
Obesity can greatly increase the risk of suffering from health problems, which can include: high blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, asthma, stroke, dementia, arthritis, harmful cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, heart attack, sleep apnea and various cancers.
Approximately 300,000 deaths each year in the U.S. can be attributed to obesity, according to the U.S. surgeon general, and the only way to truly prevent obesity is by being proactive about your health and taking the necessary precautions to live a healthier lifestyle.
The disease is most commonly attributed to poor diet and exercise, which are the biggest factors for weight gain in Americans. For the average adult, if you eat 100 more calories than the daily recommended caloric intake for your weight, there is a weight gain of about one pound per month.
What steps can you take to help prevent obesity?Control your portions
Be sure to follow serving size suggestions to ensure that you are eating a healthy amount.
Introduce healthier foods into your diet
Instead of red meats, try eating leaner meats like chicken or fish. Try substituting white bread and white rice with whole grains. Also, a well-balanced breakfast will help keep you fueled longer and prevent you from over-eating later to compensate for lost meals.
Set realistic goals
Aim to lose 10% of your total body weight for the first six months of a new exercise regimen.
Curb liquid calories
The liquid sugar in sodas and other soft drinks fill you up with empty calories, leaving you craving (and consuming) more and more. Low-fat milk and water are your best alternatives to soft drinks.
Measure your food
Measuring food with measuring cups and spoons can help you to get an idea of how much you are eating every day. This will force you to use exact portions instead of guessing, which often leads to over-eating.
Eat half of your entree
When dining out, eat only half of your meal; split it with someone else or ask for a take-home box and put half of your meal in the container.
Cook in batches
Cooking meals in specific portion sizes can help ensure that everyone you are cooking for is getting a proper serving size. When you cook meals with the idea that you can freeze them and save them for later, it often leads to over-eating portions.
Develop a consistent exercise program
Dietary guidelines from the USDA recommend most adults do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week to achieve and maintain healthy weight. Some may need 300 minutes a week. Whatever the case, be sure to implement a daily regime and to stick to it!
Eating balanced meals and small, healthy snacks throughout the day will keep your metabolism at a steady level and help you to burn energy at an appropriate rate.
Weigh yourself regularly
For some people, seeing an actual number in front of them provides visible results and helps motivate them to continue a regular workout routine.
Watch your fat intake
Fats are an important part of your diet and should not be eliminated altogether. Instead, watch your fat intake and be sure to eat foods high in healthy fatty-acids, such as salmon, walnuts, and flax seeds.
Reduce your amount of time in front of the television or the computer screen
In children, obesity rates increase by two percent for each additional hour spent watching television. Encourage them to go outside and be more active!
For more information regarding obesity and how to prevent it, please visit Meridian Health Wellness Center's Web site at: http://wellnesscenter.meridianhealth.com/Search/85,P07854
About Meridian Health:
Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization in New Jersey, comprising Jersey Shore University Medical Center and K. Hovnanian Children's Hospital in Neptune, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Community Hospital in Holmdel, and Meridian Partner Companies that include home health services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers, ambulatory care, ambulance services, and outpatient centers. Meridian Health has consistently been rated among the top performing health systems in New Jersey for clinical quality, is one of the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies to Work For" for four years in a row, and is the recipient of numerous state and national recognitions for patient care and nursing excellence. Recently, Meridian Health was the only health system in New Jersey to be ranked as one of the most Integrated Healthcare Systems in the nation according to SDI and Modern Healthcare Magazine. For more information, please visit www.MeridianHealth.com.