Obesity

Style News Wire | 6/12/2008, 5:29 p.m.
OBESITY: A condition that is characterized by excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body and that in an ...

Obesity is a disease that affects nearly one-third of the adult American population (approximately 60 million). The number of overweight and obese Americans has continued to increase since 1960, a trend that is not slowing down. Today, 64.5 percent of adult Americans (about 127 million) are categorized as being overweight or obese. Each year, obesity causes at least 300,000 excess deaths in the U.S., and healthcare costs of American adults with obesity amount to approximately $100 billion.

Obesity increases the risk of a wide variety of health problems one being type 2 Diabetes. Being obese greatly increases the chances for developing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes usually affects adults; however, with the increasing rates of obesity in children, type 2 diabetes now affects teenage African Americans.

Hypertension: African Americans have higher rates of high blood pressure than other races.

Obesity and consuming a diet high in sodium (found in salt) increase the risk for high blood pressure. To prevent hypertension, lose weight and cut back on dietary sodium found in table salt. Highly processed foods such as TV dinners, soy sauce, lunchmeat, canned foods and "fast food” is also high in sodium. Left uncontrolled, hypertension may lead to strokes, heart disease, and kidney failure.

Cancer: Most studies show a connection between diet and certain types of cancer. A high fat diet has been linked to colon, breast and prostate cancer. Consuming a low fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables is beneficial in preventing many types of cancer.

HEALTH STATISTICS FOR MINORITIES

Recent statistics show that over half of the US population is overweight or obese. Unhealthy weight trends are even more pronounced among African Americans with 60.1% of African American men and 78% of African American women identified as overweight. In addition, 28.8% of men and 50.8% of African American women are considered obese.

The age-adjusted prevalence of overweight or obesity (BMI > 25) in racial/ethnic minorities—especially minority women—is generally higher than in whites in the United States.

Non-Hispanic Black Women: 81.6 percent

Mexican-American Women: 75.4 percent

Non-Hispanic White Women: 58 percent

Non-Hispanic Black Men: 69.1 percent

Mexican-American Men: 76.1 percent

Non-Hispanic White Men: 70.6 percent

(Statistics are for populations age 20 and older.)

Studies using this definition of overweight and obesity provide ethnicity-specific data only for these three racial-ethnic groups. Studies using definitions of overweight and obesity from NHANES II have reported a high prevalence of overweight and obesity among Hispanics and American Indians. The prevalence of overweight and obesity in Asian Americans is lower than in the population as a whole.

QUICK FACTS

• Obesity is a chronic disease with a strong familial component.

• Obesity increases one's risk of developing conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease and cancer of the breast, prostate and colon.

• Health insurance providers rarely pay for treatment of obesity despite its serious effects on health.

• The tendency toward obesity is fostered by our environment: lack of physical activity combined with high-calorie, low-cost foods.

• If maintained, weight loss in the amounts as small as 10 percent of body weight can improve one's health.

• The National Institutes of Health annually spends less than 1.0 percent of its budget on obesity research.

• Persons with obesity are victims of discrimination in employment and other discrimination, and are penalized for their condition despite many federal and state laws and policies.

WEB SITE RESOURCES

• To calculate your body mass index go to http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/

• To download “Aim for a Healthy Weight Patient Booklet” go to http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/aim_hwt.htm

• To download the "Aim for a Healthy Weight" education kit, please click http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/prof/heart/obesity/aim_kit/index.htm

• For more information go to www.ama- assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/20/hopkinsdec2003.pdf

• To go to an online menu planner go to http://hp2010.nhlbihin.net/menuplanner/menu.cgi

• For more information go to http://www.obesity.org/subs/fastfacts/Obesity_Minority_Pop.shtml

• For more information go to www.asbs.org/