Obesity has become an epidemic in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 18 percent of children in the U.S. ages 6 to 19 are obese. About two out of three American adults are overweight or obese (69.2 percent).
The terms "overweight" and "obese" describe a range of weights that are considered unhealthy for a given height. People may be overweight or obese because of their:
- Behavior around eating and exercise
- Genetics or family history
- Environment and community
Extra pounds can lead to health problems. Health problems that can be tied to obesity include:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Certain types of cancers
- Sleep apnea
- Kidney disease
- Pregnancy problems
You will likely gain extra pounds if you eat too many calories and don't get enough exercise. Adding a pound or two a year may not seem like much. They can add up faster than you think.
To take control of your weight, you need to look at where you are today. You may want to consult with your doctor. He or she can help you figure out the weight range that is right for you. Your doctor can also help you create your own long-term weight management plan.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that people who lose one half to two pounds a week are more successful at keeping it off. Permanent weight-loss requires changes to the amount of calories you take in and the amount of calories you burn with exercise.
Healthy eating and regular exercise will lead to long-term weight control and better physical health. This new healthy lifestyle will also help decrease abdominal fat. It can reduce your risk for many chronic diseases. And it can increase your cardiovascular and respiratory fitness.
Take a step in the right direction by changing your food choices. Improving your diet may be simpler than you think. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services highlights these main dietary goals for Americans:
- Balance calories with physical activity to manage weight.
- Eat more of certain foods and nutrients. These include fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Also fat-free and low-fat dairy products and seafood.
- Eat less food with sodium (salt), saturated fats and trans fats. Limit food with cholesterol, added sugars and refined grains.
Federal physical activity guidelines recommend you get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity. You may need to exercise up to 300 minutes per week if you want to lose weight or maintain weight loss.
There are many simple ways to add exercise into your day. Think about joining a local gym or fitness group. Tap into the free resources your community may offer through schools, community centers or parks. Look for books, tapes and DVDs with exercise programs at your local library.
Reap the Rewards
Improving your health through weight loss can benefit you in more ways than one. Many people who maintain a significant weight loss report improvement in their energy levels and mobility. They also report a boost in mood and self-confidence. It is time to find your path to a healthier tomorrow.
Note: If you are physically inactive or you have a health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy or other symptoms, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program or increasing your activity level. He or she can tell you what types and amounts of activities are safe and suitable for you.
Created on 08/03/2004
Updated on 10/02/2013
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What causes overweight and obesity?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity and overweight.
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Weight-control Information Network. Do you know some of the health risks of being overweight?
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.