Did you know that obesity affects more people than smoking, heavy drinking, or poverty? This is according to a recent study by two RAND researchers, health economist Roland Sturm and psychiatrist Dr. Kenneth Wells. And research just recently printed in the British Medical Journal found non-smoker teens who are obese are just as likely to die early as heavy smokers.
Drs. Sturm and Wells note that “Americans haven’t given obesity the same attention as other risks, like smoking, but it is clearly a top health problem and one that is on the rise in all segments of the population. More effective clinical and public health approaches are urgently needed.”
A survey done by this team had nearly 10,000 participants, asking them to self-report on 17 chronic health conditions (including diabetes, hypertension, asthma, heart disease, and cancer), height, weight, poverty, smoking status, problem drinking, health-related quality of life, and a variety of demographic factors. It revealed the link of obesity to very high rates of chronic illnesses, much higher than smoking or drinking.
In my own life I do not remember a time before 1980 that obesity even was in the news. Now we learn that what is considered “obese” (BMI over 30) grew by 60% between 1991 and 2000! Last year at my business convention, we were all asked to measure our BMI. That is when I learned that I fell into that “obese” range! I was just one point into it but nevertheless, it was a wake-up call for me. I came home determined to change that category and have managed to be just two points now away from normal (18.5 to 24.9). Overweight is considered to be 25 to 29.9. I am losing the weight slowly and keeping it off and feeling a lot more energy. The program I am using helps me lose the fat and keep the muscle and as I drop dress and pant sizes I can really see that happening. If you would like more information about the program I am using click here.
So what can be done to change these statistics? One in five Americans are obese and three in five are overweight or obese. I just heard on the news yesterday that two out of every three people in North Carolina fall into the obese category! Unfortunately our lifestyle of being sedentary (eg. watching tv, computer games, working non-stop at desks without moving) and exercising less is having a real impact. We are basically eating the same or more and moving less. The RAND study suggests increased education, access control (including smoking bans in many buildings nationwide), taxation, better enforcement of laws relating to minors, curbs on advertising, and increased clinical attention.
We all are aware of New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomburg’s ban on large sugary drinks in an effort to curb obesity, making it illegal for food service establishments such as restaurants, street vendors, sports venues and movie theaters to serve sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces. According to Bloomberg, New York City spends $4 billion a year on health care for overweight residents, and sugary drinks are the most significant factor in the increasing number of obese or overweight New Yorkers.
One suggestion to help with weight loss from a study (published online December 10, 2012 in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine) involved the use of a “weight-loss app” with coaching. They found that because this “weight-loss app” provided immediate feed back – it showed users how many of their daily calories they had already consumed, and how close they were to reaching their physical activity goal plus the app sent information to a coach, giving people the sense that someone was “watching” even if the coach did not interact with the person very much (if they stopped uploading, they would contact you), on average, participants in the mobile app group had lost about 8.6 pounds more at every checkup (which took place at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and 12 months) than those in the control group. The findings resulted in the fact that a mobile app teamed with diet and exercise education can help people lose weight.
I was very happy to learn that the program I have been on just recently launched free access to an exclusive app which includes meal trackers, recipes, workouts, etc. as well as personalized support. They are even offering amazing rewards to motivate my success (as long as I track my daily meals, etc. on my app).
The recent HBO documentary that came out last May (The Weight of The Nation, To Win, We Have to Lose) suggests major actions/policies to make the big changes to the systems that govern the food we grow; the economies that drive the food we manufacture; the policies that regulate what we market and serve, particularly to kids; the values we place on the overall quality of schools to which we send our children; the design of our communities, parks and roads so they promote health; and the perspective of our health care system so that it is focused on preventing illness from happening, rather than just treating it once it develops. USA Today, Monday April 30, 2012
I am on a mission to eat healthy foods (avoiding such things as sodas of course), exercise daily, track everything on my “app” and use that personal support to reach my goals. What about you? Where do you fall in America’s “obesity” statistics? And if you are not in that normal range, what are your plans?