How big a problem is obesity?

Bob Greene
Bob Greene on behalf of The Best Life
Despite all the attention that has been given to the obesity epidemic and all our attempts to slim down, more and more Americans are losing their fight with obesity. In past years, more than 66 percent of Americans were considered overweight or obese, with the majority falling into the overweight category. But now, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, the scales have tipped, with more Americans falling into the obese group. The recent statistics now indicate that more than 34 percent of Americans are obese compared to 32.7 percent who are overweight.

Both overweight (defined as a body mass index, or BMI, of more than 25) and obesity (a BMI of more than 30) increases your risk for a laundry list of diseases and conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, a variety of cancers, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, sleep apnea, and arthritis, to name just a few. In fact, studies show that obesity is associated with 30 medical conditions. And the more extra weight you carry around, the higher your risk for these conditions. (To find out your BMI, check out the NIH's BMI calculator. You can use this number - along with other important measures, including waist circumference, which is also addressed on the NIH website - to assess your health risk.)

There are a few lessons to take from these startling statistics. The first is, of course, that it's crucial that you work toward reaching a healthier weight - your health, happiness and quality of life are all negatively impacted when you're overweight or obese. And no surprise here, exercising regularly and following a healthy, balanced diet, like the one recommended on the Best Life plan, are the keys to making this happen. The second is that it's never too late to start. Studies show that even a modest loss - 10 percent of your weight - can significantly reduce your risk for a variety of diseases. Of course, it's much easier to reverse a smaller weight gain, but you can easily increase your activity and watch your calories no matter what you weigh.

So, make the commitment today - for yourself, your health and your loved ones - to not allow yourself to become one of these statistics.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.