Obesity and Your Health


Medically Reviewed On: January 07, 2002
Source: The Detroit News

We are a growing nation. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, more than sixty percent of Americans aged twenty years and older are overweight, and one-quarter of American adults are also obese.

What does this mean for the health of our nation? Nothing good. Obesity-related diseases are “implicated” in more than a quarter million deaths every year. Below, Dr Robert Kushner, Director of the Wellness Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, discusses the grave consequences of our growing sizes.

ROBERT KUSHNER, MD: It’s the most serious problem we are facing today. Next to cigarette smoking, overweight is the second leading cause of preventable death in this country. It is estimated that 300,000 deaths per year is attributable to our diet, physical inactivity and resulting obesity.

What are the current statistics on overweight and obesity?

We’re now hearing a lot about children being obese. What is the number there?
It’s about 1 in 10, or 10%. The troubling factor there is that children are following in our over sized footsteps. An overweight or obese child is more likely to be an obese adult. So we are looking at an epidemic among our children as they become adults, and are likely to be more obese than we are today.

That is still debatable, and a lot of research is being done. But most of us think that it is due to our society and culture. We really live in an obesogenic society where food is plentiful, physical inactivity is everywhere. Those two factors combined lead to gaining weight.

How is obesity defined?
我们目前通过使用一个名为the的术语来定义肥胖症Body Mass Index (BMI)也称为BMI。每个人都知道他们的胆固醇,每个人都知道他们的血压。每个人都知道他们的BMI同样重要。它是高度关系的重量,相当容易在表上计算。25到30之间的BMI被定义为超重。BMI为30或以上是肥胖的。粗略地说,大约30磅或更多的磅数超重已经定义为肥胖。

Just 30 pounds?具有与肥胖有关的健康并发症并没有太多。

Talk about those complications, the health effects of obesity.
Obesity is the major cause of type 2 diabetes in this country. Obesity is the number one reason why diabetes is increasing in this country. It is fueling that disease. In addition to diabetes, obesity is also linked to increased risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, gastroesophageal reflux disease, certain cancers, in addition to psychological and emotional problems, as well as quality of life changes. It eventually leads to earlier death.

What are the leading causes of obesity?
The most significant factor really is our lifestyle. That is the only way that we can understand why the numbers of obese patients or individuals has risen so quickly. Again, that is the food that’s everywhere and the physical inactivity.

But genetics plays a role as well. We currently think that genetics determines a vulnerability to our environment, which then brings out the obesity.

There are other causes, although less common. They include drug-induced obesity, such as people on different corticosteroids or different hormonal agents. Those medications can increase body weight, not to mention things like antidepressants and other drugs used for mental health disorders.

Rarely is an underlying medical condition a cause for obesity. That would be something like Cushing’s syndrome or different kinds of glandular problems. But they are, once again, very uncommon.

What is the first step in getting treatment for obesity? Where does a person go for help?

There are several places an individual can go for help. One is, and the first that I would recommend, is to see his or her doctor. A doctor should be an active partner to a patient who is trying to get control of body weight. The doctor can also make sure that you do not have an underlying problem that is either being caused by obesity or causing the obesity itself. T hat needs to be ruled out right away.

Once you’ve done that, you can either work with your doctor or work with a registered dietitian or seek help with some of the commercial programs that are available, which can be very helpful.

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