The obesity epidemic
Transforming Health | 04.12.13
Obesity raises risks for many diseases.
About 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese- that’s one in three.
Jacqui Zimmerman, a registered dietitian at Lancaster General Health, explains, "Typically we talk in terms of the body mass index, or BMI. The range of healthy BMI is anywhere from 18-and-a-half up to 24-and-a-half. Above that would be considered overweight. And then once you get above 30, that would be considered obese."
A BMI calculator like this one can easily tell you what your BMI is.
"We’re living different lives than we used to be," Zimmerman says. "People are increasingly more sedentary than we used to be. We’re moving less and we’re eating larger portions, and especially larger portions of food that are very high in fat and calories."
Learn more out the obesity epidemic facing our country in the video below:
Overweight and obesity increase risk for a host of illnesses, like heart disease and diabetes. But one that people might not think of is cancer.
Children who have one or more overweight parents are more likely to become overweight themselves. "We’re seeing the same things that happen with adults, that children are eating because of stress. You know, we don’t think of kids as having stress, but increasingly they have more and more stress and they’re just not as active," Zimmerman says.
But, Zimmerman says, it’s never too late to make healthy lifestyle changes.
There are weight management programs for many different ages, including for children and teens. Two examples are the Shapedown program, and a new program called “Healthy Changes. Healthy You,” which is a weight management program designed for adults.
Tess Kreider of Lancaster enrolled in the healthy weight management class.
"I’ve been dealing with weight for a long time, and I’ve lost weight and gained it back several times," she says. "I was kidding myself, you know, the weight was getting higher and higher and nothing that I was doing, at least I thought I was doing, was making any difference. That’s why I just decided I had to try something different."
She told herself that hopefully someone was going to be able to tell her something that she didn’t already know because she felt as if she already knew so much.
"They give you lots of ideas as far as things to do besides eating. Or when you feel like you have to eat, think first. And when you do eat, really be mindful of what you’re eating, and things like that."
Kreider says her view of exercise changed as well. "Before, I would’ve thought I had to do a class, like, a half an hour, an hour, but just ten minutes, any movement was better than no movement. And you know, I’d just do that every day."
She's grateful for the encouragement and support from family. "My kids have been encouraging. My daughter sends me texts, like, ‘I’m so proud of you,’ and things like that."
Kreider says she’s lost 35 pounds. But, she says, she’s not done yet.
"This is the way I need to live to keep going in the direction that I’m going. It is hard work, you know, not thinking that there’s any magic pill, or any diet that we can just hand you that says, ‘Eat this, and you’ll lose the weight.’ The people that are most successful are the people that know those things going in and they know it’s going to be hard work."