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Risk factors for becoming obese
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Obesity has reached epidemic levels over the last 2 decades, and the term obesity epidemic is now part of our accepted vocabulary. This goes for both industrialized countries and the developing world. Obesity statistics show that one in four Americans is obese and that number shows no signs at present of decreasing. The definition of obesity is different than that of overweight. Using the Body Mass Index (BMI), which uses both height and weight to measure body fat, obesity refers to a BMI of over 30. Overweight is when the BMI value is between 25-29.9. The term morbid obesity refers to a BMI of 40 or higher. Using these numbers, obesity research shows us that 1 in 4 Americans is obese, and close to 60% of adult Americans are overweight or obese. These statistics are staggering and have profound repercussions on the overall health of the population. In addition, childhood obesity is more prevalent than ever. Obese children face far greater odds of becoming obese adults than do average weight children.
What is obesity?
The technical definition of obesity is having a BMI of over 30. Obesity results, quite simply, from having an abnormally high amount of body fat.
Obesity and Health Risks
Obesity, aside from the significant social stigma and prejudice it produces, puts people at risk for very severe health conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer. The average human body has between 30-40 billion fat cells. The body can happily support some extra fat, as fat is vital for storing energy and insulating the body. Once that healthy line has been crossed, body fat can have profoundly negative health implications, to the point of being life threatening. Obesity is managed through weight loss which itself can usually be achieved through a combination of healthful diet, increased physical activity and behavior modifications. When these efforts fail, both prescription medication and surgical procedures are available. It is extremely important that any obese individual thoroughly discuss any weight loss plan with a qualified health care practitioner. Incorporating new foods and exercise into your lifestyle should be done with caution and under a doctor's supervision.
If you take in more calories than you expend, you gain weight. Caloric intake must be balanced with energy expenditure to avoid gaining or losing weight. Calories that the body does not burn up as energy are stored as fat. There are many causes of obesity; however, too high a caloric intake (overeating) and too little or no exercise are the most important and most common causes.
The American Obesity Association offers excellent advice, information and resources for all those fighting obesity. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Health offers excellent articles and research on obesity and health issues. Use the search box to access obesity related information.
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