Obesity; An Ameican Epidemic, A Worldwide Concern

If you are considered overweight, whether you know it or not, you are in the majority. In America, it has been recently estimated that 65% of the population is overweight with 30% being at least clinically obese. To add to this alarming statistic is the estimate that 15-20% of the nation’s children are overweight. Now, obesity is beginning to spread more and more to countries that have always had a relatively low rate of obesity, like China and Japan. This is one case where being in the majority is not considered a good thing. What really matters is, how being overweight or obese affects your overall health.

According to the body mass index, you are considered overweight if your index is between 25 and 29. If your index is over 30, you are considered obese. The American collage of sports medicine defines obesity as an amount of body fat that increases the risk of disease. As a general rule, more than 25% body fat for men and more than 32% body fat for women is considered obesity.

Let’s look at some of the most likely reasons that so many people are obese.

1: overeating
2: lack of exercise
3: genetic predisposition
4: psychological problems
5: too slow a metabolism

These are some of the things scientists are investigating as to the likely causes for obesity. Most of these can be overcome by lowering the fat in the diet and by exercising.

Regardless of the reasons for overweight and obesity, there is health risks associated with these conditions. According to the U.S.surgeon’s report:

A bodyweight of more than 20% over ideal constitutes a definite health hazard.
Obesity is associated with a reduced life expectancy.
Risk factors for heart disease such as high cholesterol increase.
Obesity increases stress on the body joints.
Obesity increases the risk of surgery.
The presence of diabetes is nearly 3 times higher in overweight people.

According to the experts, all of these risk factors can be improved by a reduction in weight. Some have estimated that a weight loss of 10% can improve the risk factors for heart disease by 20%. Also, the greatest health benefits are reported to occur with the first 20 pounds of weight loss, which means that even if it seems to be hard to lose weight, it is still worth doing it. If you don’t lose all of the weight you want to lose, you can still improve your risk factors by losing some of the weight.

You can make losing weight a little easier if you just set a small goal at first, then when you reach that goal, set another small goal and aim for that. A good target is to try to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. It is within reason to try to lose 10% of your current bodyweight, or 20 pounds in about six months if you are overweight.

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