Obesity By The Numbers

ObeseWoman.By Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

Obesity continues to be a leading public health problem.  While many industrialized nations have experienced increased obesity rates, obesity in the United States ranks as the highest in the world.  One third of Americans are now considered overweight while another third are categorized as obese.  Obesity rates are increasing at startling levels.  In some areas of the country, obesity rates have more than doubled over the last ten years.  Three out of four people are projected to be overweight or obese within the next decade.  By 2020, the vast majority of adults will be overweight and more than half will suffer from diabetes or pre-diabetic conditions.  If the current trend continues, fully 86% of adults will be overweight or obese by 2030.  Factors that Americans cite as contributing to their obesity include:

  • Pre-packaged high-calorie foods, which have become a major part of the country’s diet, are convenient, easily accessible, and inexpensive.
  • Too much fat, sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods in the diet.
  • Hectic lifestyles often mean that formal meal times have all but disappeared, leading to increased snacking on readily available prepackaged junk foods.
  • The consumption of sweet soda and fruit drinks has more than doubled since the 1970s.  Researchers at the Imperial College of London have established a link between daily consumption of just one soda and increased  risk of type 2 diabetes.  Sweetened drinks are the largest contributors to empty calories and processed sugar in the American diet.
  • Consuming overly large portions containing too many calories.
  • Increased media usage.  Time spent playing video games or watching TV contributes to inadequate amounts of exercise and physical activity.
  • The cost of healthy food.
  • Lack of nutrition education.

Obesity is one of the pandemic chronic conditions commonly associated with health disorders such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.  Currently less than 5%  of Americans are considered to have ideal cardiovascular health.  The American Heart Association has set a goal to help Americans improve their overall heart health by 2020.  If current trends continue, only a 6% improvement is expected.  “To increase overall heart health by 20%, American adults would need to rapidly reverse unhealthy trends starting today,” states Mark D. Huffman, MD.  “In concert with individual choices, public health policies can be and should be effective tools to reduce smoking, increase access to healthy foods, and increase physical activity in daily life.  Since the 1960s cardiovascular disease death rates have substantially decreased, but if the weight and dysglycemia trends continue to increase, we are in danger of seeing a reversal of those gains,” Huffman states.

  • Obesity now exceeds smoking as public enemy number one.  Obesity in America currently adds $190 billion to annual national healthcare costs.  
  • At the current rates of increase, obesity related health care costs are expected to exceed $300 billion by 2018, more than double that of 2008. 
  • Obesity-related absenteeism costs employers as much as $6.4 billion per year.
  • A person with diabetes costs approximately $6,600 more per year to care for than someone without diabetes. 
  • An obese person costs on average $1,400 more per year to care for than a person of normal weight. 
  • Studies show that hospitalized obese persons spend an average of one and one half additional days in the hospital largely due to high blood pressure.  Researchers also found that the longer a person has been obese, the more likely their hospital stay will be extended. 
  • The extra weight carried by vehicles as a result of overweight and obese Americans results in one billion additional gallons of gasoline burned each year. 

There is no question that American adults are getting larger each year along with their children and pets. For the first time in history, children born today are expected to have a shorter life span than their parents.  Babies of mothers with a higher pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) are fatter and have more fat in their liver, a study published in September’s issue of The Journal Pediatric Research has found.  There appears to be growing evidence that obesity prevention needs to begin in the womb.  The researchers from Imperial College London say that the effect of a mother’s BMI on her child’s development in the womb might put them on a trajectory towards lifelong health issues.  Children of overweight or obese mothers have a higher risk of being overweight or obese and of experiencing associated metabolic health problems such as type 2 diabetes.

Childhood obesity is now the number one health concern of parents in the U.S.   The greatest risk factor for childhood obesity is the obesity of both parents. 

  • Since 1980 obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled. 
  • It is estimated that one in three children are now overweight or obese and that same proportion will develop diabetes at some point during their lifetime. 
  • Obese children have an 80% chance of remaining obese their entire lives.  Obesity is causing a wide range of health concerns in children that previously were not seen until adulthood, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and elevated cholesterol.
  • The studies suggest that obesity must be addressed at a younger age because the longer a person lives with the disease, the greater the consequences.

Healthy lifestyle habits, including healthy eating and physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing related diseases.  Healthy eating is associated with reduced risk for many diseases, including several of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. 

  • Exercise is known to be beneficial for mood and energy levels and can help curb cravings.  Taking a 15 minute walk can help manage weight and reduce the risk of unhealthy snacking.   
  • Eat a protein rich breakfast to reduce cravings and prevent overeating later in the day. The early morning meal increases the metabolic rate of calorie burning for the day. 
  • Shop the outer circle and fill your cart with good healthy food choices.  Healthy, fresh colorful foods are usually located along the sides and back of the food store. 
  • Switch from a standard American diet laden with fat, sugar and processed food to one of color, texture and variety.  This means eating lots of cholesterol lowering and bowel regulating fruits and vegetables that provide vitamins, minerals,  antioxidants and fiber.
  • Having a general idea of the calorie counts of foods can help in reducing overall caloric intake.  Remember calories are energy sources.  Eat healthy low calorie foods to curb hunger and provide sustained energy. 
  • Be aware of emotional or boredom eating.  Stay busy during these times to reduce the urge to munch.  Snack on fruits, vegetables, low fat cheese or yogurt while watching TV and skip the salty, empty calorie carbohydrates. 
  • Be honest with yourself.  The mental side of weight loss is an important aspect of losing weight.  Decide what you are ready to change.  If you are not ready to make big changes, small changes can make a difference.  Adding just a little movement or activity throughout the day can add up to more calories burned and enhancement of self esteem. 

Supplements thought to aid adult weight loss:

Super HCA by Douglas Laboratories  may be a useful dietary supplement for those who wish to successfully manage their weight.  Each tablet contains 840 mg of (-) hydroxycitric acid from 1,400 mg of a high-quality, standardized Garcinia cambogia extract. This natural extract comes from a tropical fruit grown in several Asian rain forest areas.   Unlike many commonly used diet ingredients, (-) hydroxycitric acid is not a central nervous system stimulant.

CoffeeGenic Green Coffee Extract by Life Extension assists in  gaining control of after-meal glucose surges and may provide additional support for cardiovascular and metabolic health.

Looz-It Raspberry Ketone by Intensive Nutrition  helps support body fat reduction and aids in suppressing appetite.

Sweet Trim by Brightcore Nutrition  is unique in that it contains a whole foods-based formula that combines eleven natural ingredients to aid weight loss efforts.  This unique formulation creates a synergy that enhances the effectiveness of each ingredient.

7-Keto 100 mg by Douglas Laboratories  may be a useful dietary supplement for individuals wishing to support a healthy weight management plan that includes an exercise program and healthful diet.

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