Understanding Obesity Is the First Step to Better Health

Understanding Obesity Is the First Step to Better HealthAbout one in three Americans is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes millions of children who often struggle with weight for their entire lives. Understanding obesity and its causes is the first step in confronting this significant public health challenge.

What Is Obesity?

In medical terms, obesity is considered an abnormal accumulation of body fat over a person’s ideal weight. This is commonly measured by body mass index (BMI), a number that takes into account your height and weight. A BMI of 30 or greater is typically considered obese. Similarly, a waist circumference greater than 35 inches for women or 40 inches for men is a sign of unhealthy weight.

Causes of Obesity

The causes of obesity can be complex and multifactorial. Unhealthy behaviors are one of the strongest contributors to weight gain. For example, portion sizes at fast food joints and other restaurants are significantly larger than they were decades previously. Eating more calories than the body burns through regular metabolic processes and physical activity results in weight gain. Thus, to lose weight, it’s important to both decrease caloric intake and to increase the number of calories burned through exercise. Having a net caloric deficit of 500 calories per day (either through restricting food intake or increasing physical activity) translates to 1 pound of weight loss per week.

Diet and physical activity are not the only variables that impact obesity. Environmental factors such as the ubiquity of cars and video games mean that Americans get less everyday activity than usual. Additionally, genetic factors may contribute to weight. Having a parent or close relative who is significantly overweight increases your own risk of obesity.

What You Can Do About Obesity

Obesity contributes to a variety of health conditions that limit your quality of life. This includes an increased risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, gallbladder disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, arthritis, and certain types of cancer. Losing weight is one of the most important steps to reducing your risk of these chronic illnesses.

Medical weight loss programs are one of the best ways to safely combat obesity. Offered in a clinical setting, this type of program draws upon the expertise of medical doctors such as Dr. Wendy Scinta in Fayetteville, registered dieticians, and mental health professionals to help you lose weight safely. Medical weight loss programs may include nutrition information, pharmacotherapy, physical activity recommendations, and behavioral therapy.