There is no doubt that significant weight gain is connected to serious preventable health risks. Diabetes, heart attacks, cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and infertility are all linked to obesity. But how does this increased risk translate, exactly?
How many Americans are obese?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 67% of adults are considered to be overweight or obese, and about one-third of children and adolescents between the ages of six and 19 are considered to be overweight or obese. In addition, roughly 33% of adults are so overweight they are considered to be obese, weighing 30 pounds or more above their recommended weight range, while 6% of adults are extremely obese, weighing more than 100 pounds over the recommended range for normal weight.
The CDC reports that annual medical costs and care of obesity in the US was $147 billion in 2008, and medical costs for individuals with obesity were $1,429 higher than those with normal weight.
A study published by PLOS Medicine analyzed 20 studies from the National Cancer Institute, which included 9,564 extremely obese adults and 304,001 healthy-weight adults, excluding individuals with a history of smoking and chronic illness. The study included adults from the United States, Sweden and Australia.
The risks of being obese
The results of the study were rather shocking: Those classified as obese, (30 pounds overweight), had a death rate 2.5 times that of people with healthy weight. This equates to 6.5 to 13.7 years of life!
In addition, the study found that extreme obesity shortens life span even more than smoking. Smokers with a healthy weight lost an average of 8.9 years of life while those suffering from extreme obesity lost 9.8 years.
Even if you are genetically predisposed to weight gain, a new study reports that a physically active lifestyle can substantially decrease the risks.
This study looked at data from up to 17,400 people from six different ethnic groups from 17 countries, and followed them for over three years.
The lead researcher in the study, David Meyre, commented, ‘This provides a message of hope for people with obesity predisposing genes that they can do something about it. Our body weight destiny is not only written in our genetic blueprint.’ Meyre is an associate professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics for McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.
At first glance, it might appear that the main problem is overeating. But a study done by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers found that the culprit was not necessarily overeating — but lack of exercise. Researchers found that the percentage of Americans who don’t exercise has increased dramatically, while daily caloric intake has remained the same.
So what is the solution?
Weight loss requires a net negative in the consumption of calories — whether this is through diet or exercise — or both. But, the Stanford study showed that for the severely obese, exercise is a great start. â€‹
To calculate your body mas index (BMI), check out the BMI calculator on the CDC’s website here.
Ways to get healthier
If you want to get healthier and lose weight in 2016, here are some simple ways to help you do it!
- 10 healthy breakfast recipes to help you lose weight
- How to get a gym membership really cheap
- Free apps help you keep your New Year’s resolutions
- Apps that help you eat healthy when you dine out
- 5 ways to make healthy eating more cost-effective