Look around you. How many overweight people do you see? Chances are that you see at least one, as approximately two-thirds of adults in the US are either overweight or obese. And according to the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, the percentage of overweight children in America is about 17 percent.
People are considered obese when they have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, which is equivalent to being about 30 or more pounds overweight. While moderate obesity has negative effects on your health, they pale in comparison to the adverse health effects caused by severe obesity. The severely obese have a BMI of 40 or higher, and have at least 100 pounds of excess weight.
Obesity has severe consequences on your health and quality of life. It increases your risk for type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and other chronic, debilitating illnesses. Obesity-related problems account for at least 9 percent of the nation’s healthcare spending.
Severe Obesity is on the Rise
Despite the fact that there is increased public attention on the risks of obesity, severe obesity is increasing very quickly. Recently, several studies about the obesity rate in America have been released, giving us a glimpse into America’s future – and the forecast is bleak.
New research by the RAND Corporation, a non-profit research group, has shown that severely obese people are the fastest-growing group of overweight Americans. From 2000 to 2010, the proportion of severely obese Americans increased from 3.9 percent to 6.6 percent, which means that more than 15 million US adults are severely obese. The study is based on data from a telephone survey of about 3 million people over a decade. Other findings in the study include the following:
- Severe obesity is about 50% higher among women then men.
- The proportion of severely obese people under 40 is similar to that of those over 40.
- Severe obesity is twice as high among blacks than Hispanics and whites.
- In 2005, the growth of severely obese American population began to plateau.
For the first time in 20 years, the severe obesity trend seems to be slowing. While that is great to hear, it’s still too early to celebrate. According to a recent report titled, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012” from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), all 50 states could have obesity rates above 40% by 2030.The report also highlights that medical costs due to obesity-related diseases could increase $48 billion to $66 billion per year in the US. Obesity-related diseases already cost the US $147 billion to $210 billion today. Additionally, the report estimates that loss-of-productivity costs due to obesity could rise from $390 billion to $580 billion yearly.
How Exercise Can Help You Lose Weight and Stay Healthy
The good news is that we know a lot more about the causes of being overweight and how to prevent obesity than we did 10 years ago. Obesity results when your diet and physical activity level get out of balance. Essentially, you must burn more calories than you take in if you want to lose weight.Both aerobics and weight training lead to weight loss, but aerobic exercise is the best exercise for weight loss because it burns more calories. Do a range of different activities during your workouts to prevent boredom and make use of different muscle groups. Known as cross-training, this approach is better than doing the same thing day after day, which can lead to injury.
Losing Weight and Keeping It Off Is a Lifestyle
There are no shortcuts to weight loss. There’s no getting around the fact that weight loss requires commitment and planning. Generally speaking, adults need 30 minutes of physical activity on five or more days a week to be healthy, while children and teens need 60 minutes of activity each day. Experts recommend losing no more than one to two pounds per week.
For the best results, create a weight loss exercise plan. Otherwise, it will be difficult to keep track of your progress. A plan breaks your long-term goals into manageable steps, enabling you to reach small, specific goals and achieve your desired results. Just make sure that you set SMART goals, which are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.For some people, weight loss may not be the most motivating goal to focus on. Other outcomes that may be more meaningful to you than weight loss itself include the following:
- Have more energy
- Reduce stress
- Become a good role model for your children
- Be more alert
- Get better sleep
- Keep your body strong and fit as you age
- Improve your mood
- Lower blood pressure
Working toward a goal that means a lot to you personally can help you stay on track. Plus, with many of the above goals, you can achieve immediate results that keep you motivated. Perhaps we’d be more successful in shrinking the percentage of the obese American population if more of us set weight loss goals that we actually cared about!
A good beginning makes a good end.