Thursday, April 30, 2009


Overweight and obesity are both labels for ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. The terms also identify ranges of weight that have been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems.
  • Globally, there are more than 1 billion overweight adults, at least 300 million of them obese.
  • Obesity and overweight pose a major risk for chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer.
  • The key causes are increased consumption of energy-dense foods high in saturated fats and sugars, and reduced physical activity.
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions globally, with more than 1 billion adults overweight - at least 300 million of them clinically obese - and is a major contributor to the global burden of chronic disease and disability. Often coexisting in developing countries with under-nutrition, obesity is a complex condition, with serious social and psychological dimensions, affecting virtually all ages and socioeconomic groups.
Currently more than 1 billion adults are overweight - and at least 300 million of them are clinically obese. Current obesity levels range from below 5% in China, Japan and certain African nations, to over 75% in urban Samoa. But even in relatively low prevalence countries like China, rates are almost 20% in some cities.
Childhood obesity is already epidemic in some areas and on the rise in others. An estimated 22 million children under five are estimated to be overweight worldwide. According to the US Surgeon General, in the USA the number of overweight children has doubled and the number of overweight adolescents has trebled since 1980. The prevalence of obese children aged 6-to-11 years has more than doubled since the 1960s. Obesity prevalence in youths aged 12-17 has increased dramatically from 5% to 13% in boys and from 5% to 9% in girls between 1966-70 and 1988-91 in the USA. The problem is global and increasingly extends into the developing world; for example, in Thailand the prevalence of obesity in 5-to-12 year olds children rose from12.2% to 15-6% in just two years.
Obesity accounts for 2-6% of total health care costs in several developed countries; some estimates put the figure as high as 7%. The true costs are undoubtedly much greater as not all obesity-related conditions are included in the calculations.
  • For adults, overweight and obesity ranges are determined by using weight and height to calculate a number called the “body mass index” (BMI). BMI is used because, for most people, it correlates with their amount of body fat.
    • An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.
    • An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.
  • For children and teens, BMI ranges above a normal weight have different labels (at risk of overweight and overweight). Additionally, BMI ranges for children and teens are defined so that they take into account normal differences in body fat between boys and girls and differences in body fat at various ages.
The distribution of BMI is shifting upwards in many populations. And recent studies have shown that people who were undernourished in early life and then become obese in adulthood, tend to develop conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes at an earlier age and in more severe form than those who were never undernourished.
Remember BMI is just one indicator of potential health risks associated with being overweight or obese. For assessing someone’s likelihood of developing overweight- or obesity-related diseases, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute guidelines recommend looking at two other predictors :
  • The individual’s waist circumference (because abdominal fat is a predictor of risk for obesity-related diseases).
  • Other risk factors the individual has for diseases and conditions associated with obesity (for example, high blood pressure or physical inactivity).
Effective weight management for individuals and groups at risk of developing obesity involves a range of long-term strategies. These include prevention, weight maintenance, management of co-morbidities and weight loss.
They should be part of an integrated, multi-sectoral, population-based approach, which includes environmental support for healthy diets and regular physical activity. Key elements include :
  • Creating supportive population-based environments through public policies that promote the availability and accessibility of a variety of low-fat, high-fibre foods, and that provide opportunities for physical activity.
  • Promoting healthy behaviours to encourage, motivate and enable individuals to lose weight by: - eating more fruit and vegetables, as well as nuts and whole grains;
    - engaging in daily moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes;
    - cutting the amount of fatty, sugary foods in the diet;
    - moving from saturated animal-based fats to unsaturated vegetable-oil based fats.
  • Mounting a clinical response to the existing burden of obesity and associated conditions through clinical programmes and staff training to ensure effective support for those affected to lose weight or avoid further weight gain.
Losing weight is a life long battle but you need to incorporate good eating habits into your daily life to be successful. There are 4 healthy dieting tips that you can start today that will put you on the road to losing weight and keeping it off.
  1. Reduce sugar intake and products made from white or refined flour. Sugar and refined flour prevents your body from efficiently burning fat. Eliminating these foods from your diet will allow your body to burn fat.
  2. Most people need more activity and exercise but lack time. Incorporate a daily 25 to 30 minutes of fast pace walking during your lunch break or immediately after work. A fast pace walk will boost your metabolism by 200 calories per day. This may not sound like much but when combined with a good diet, the pounds will melt away.
  3. Dinner should consist of 1 serving of lean meat with 2 servings of vegetables, preferably a green or leafy veggie. Good examples of lean meats are chicken or turkey breast. You can even have lean pork chop, ground beef or steak.
  4. Eat 5 to 6 small meals. Don’t starve yourself to lose weight. On the contrary, you need to eat frequent but small meals. Consider a meal replacement protein shake during the day.
To illustrate the importance of counting calories while embracing a healthier daily diet, we'll use two charts created by Diet Bites.
Both charts contain super-healthy food choices. Both charts contain the same number of servings per day within each of the Official Food Groups. The big difference is the number of calories which in turn can make a big difference in the numbers on the weight scales. And if a number isn't of importance, it should be, because extra weight - whether maintained by healthy or unhealthy food choices impacts overall health in a big way. We'll go into the risks, but first let's look at the charts :
If you are on target with your weight loss plan - give yourself a reward but be sure to make it something that is not connected to food per say. For example, there are two types of kitchen goodies - those that go into the tummy and those that make things for the tummy. Opt for the thing that doesn't go into the tummy. Other good rewards include an article of clothing in a smaller size, donating the looser-fitting clothing that is currently in your closet. No need for temptation - but of course, don't strangle yourself in clothing that fits too tightly as you shrink into it as you'll end up irritable and uncomfortable, making weight loss less doable.

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