Obesity is not just a few extra pounds you carry around. If you are classified as obese, it means that your body mass index is 30 or higher. BMI is calculated using your height and weight and is a good predictor of obesity and overweight for most people. Being obese is extremely dangerous and can lower your life expectancy.
More than one-third, or approximately 33.8 percent, of adult Americans over age 20 are considered obese, according to the Weight-Control Information Network. The percentage of men and women who are obese is 32.2 and 35.5 percent, respectively. A small percentage of the population, 5.7, is considered morbidly obese, with a BMI of 40 or higher. Less than one third of adult Americans are at a healthy weight.
According to analysis by the National Institute on Aging and scientists from the International Longevity Center, the average American could see his life expectancy reduced by five years due to obesity. Individuals who are obese have a 50 to 100-percent higher risk of premature death from all causes. This is due to the fact that excess body weight increases your risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and even some types of cancer.
Quality of Life
Obesity makes everything more challenging. Carrying around excess body weight puts increased stress on your joints as well as your heart and lungs. Walking across a room or getting out of a car become major daily challenges. You may find that your knees, hips, ankles and even your back constantly ache or are inflamed. Combined with any one of numerous medical conditions, obesity lowers the quality of your life.
Steps to Reducing Obesity
Even losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your weight reduces your risk of disease. Focus on small lifestyle changes that will add up to major body changes. Start by reducing your food intake slightly. Do not starve yourself, but cut your portions and increase the amount of water you drink. Add physical activity, such as walking, into your day. Walk for 5 to 10 minutes three to four times each day and build up slowly until you can walk 30 to 60 minutes straight. Speak with your doctor and ask for suggestions to help reduce your weight.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Defining Overweight and Obese
- National Institutes of Health; Obesity Threatens to Cut U.S. Life Expectancy, a New Analysis Suggests; March 16, 2005
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Overweight and Obesity: Health Consequences
- Weight-Control Information Network: Statistics
- "ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription"; American College of Sports Medicine; 2010