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Are You Overweight?
Staying fit and healthy can take up a lot of time, energy and money. You know this all too well. But most North Americans dedicate a great deal of their time and energy to work and family, not to mention the slew of responsibilities besides these. For those of us who aren't fortunate enough to work for employers who promote corporate wellness, staying fit and healthy can be a daunting task.
In recent studies, the number of overweight North Americans has skyrocketed from previous years. But let’s face it, you’re always on the go, and how can you be conscience of your diet and still find time for exercise and physical activity? On most days, you probably don’t have the time to pack a lunch and the MacDonald’s down the road is just more convenient - hey, they even have a ”healthy choice menu”, so what’s the big deal? Well, if you haven’t seen the movie, ”Super Size Me”, the big deal could be your waistline when you realize your obligations and responsibilities have turned you into a monstrous, wheezing blob. But this is only the case with the many North Americans who fail to find time for their personal health. For others, the situation is much more tragic: the many people born overweight and who must now deal with morbid obesity and the health problems that stem from this condition.
Morbid obesity - or ”clinically severe obesity” - is a disease of excess energy stores in the form of fat. Morbid obesity correlates with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 kg/m2 or with being 100 pounds overweight. As a rule of measure, people with a BMI of 18.5 kg/m2 to 24.9 kg/m2 are within the normal weight range when considering sex, height, age and other factors. Any BMI measurement over the normal weight range is considered either medically overweight, obese, morbidly obese or morbidly obese II (Again, your BMI depends on several factors).
Being overweight is associated with physical problems which are now well recognized. The most obvious is an increased mortality rate directly related to weight increase. In a study conducted by the American Society for Bariatric Surgery, it was found after examining over 3,000 participants that the mortality rates for men 50% above average weight were increased approximately two fold. In women, the mortality was also increased two fold, while in female diabetics the mortality risk increased eight fold and three fold in those with digestive tract disease. Additionally, A Veterans Administration study of 200 morbidly obese men aged 23 to 70 years, with an average weight of 316 lbs (143.5 kg) showed a twelve fold increase in mortality in the 25-34 year age group and a six fold increase in the 35-44 year age group.
Being overweight has both its physical and social downfalls. Cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hypertriglyceridemia, hyperinsulinemia and low levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol hinder your chances of living a long and fulfilling life. Serious consequences of severe obesity are well documented and include cardiac dysfunction, pulmonary problems, digestive diseases, and endocrine disorders as well as obstetric, orthopedic, and dermatologic complications. Cancer mortality rates are increased in severely obese males and females as well.
Being overweight or morbidly obese had its sociological and emotional problems as well. More and more people who suffer from morbid obesity (even those, from slightly to very overweight people) have reported increased instances of disrespect and prejudice. Widespread negative attitudes from the general population perceive the morbidly obese adult as weak-willed, ugly, awkward, self-indulgent and immoral – a misconception that helps to promote psychological distress and increase the risk of developing a psychological disorder. The morbidly obese patient is at risk for affective, anxiety and substance abuse disorders.
Being overweight (or underweight for that matter) not only has its own health risks, but can lead to various psychological problems. It is not so important to have the look or body that so much of the North American media plays upon; your aim should be to feel healthy and lower the chance of future health problems so you can live a lengthy and fulfilling life.