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Obesity and Weight Loss Explained

By Bridget Mwape

What is Obesity?

Obesity means an excessively high proportion of body fat. Overweight refers to an excess of body weight, but not necessarily body fat. Health professionals use a measurement called body mass index (BMI) to classify an adult's weight as healthy, overweight, or obese. BMI describes body weight relative to height and is correlated with total body fat content in most adults. Generally, the higher your BMI, the higher your health risk, and the risk increases even further if your waist size is greater than 40 inches for men or 35 inches for women.

People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, gallbladder disease, and joint pain caused by excess uric acid (gout). Excess weight can also cause interrupted breathing during sleep and wearing away of the joints (osteoarthritis). Carrying extra weight means carrying an extra risk for certain types of cancer, including endometrial, breast, prostate, and colon cancer.

Losing Weight

Most overweight people should lose weight gradually. Sometimes, people with serious health problems associated with obesity may have legitimate reasons for losing weight rapidly. If so, a physician's supervision is required. Experts recommend that people who are overweight or obese should concentrate on engaging in regular physical activity and maintaining healthy eating habits.

See your doctor for advice about your overall health risk and the weight loss options that are best for you. Together, decide whether you should go on a moderate diet or whether other options might be appropriate. Check with your doctor and make sure that your health status allows lowering your caloric intake and increasing your physical activity.

Successful weight loss and healthy weight management depend on sensible goals and expectations. Doctors, dieticians, and other experts agree that the best way to lose weight is to eat fewer calories and increase your physical activity. Follow a calorie-reduced balanced diet that provides for 1-2 pounds of weight loss a week. Be sure to include at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, lean meat and low fat dairy products. Make time in your day for some form of physical activity. Walking is an excellent form of physical activity that almost everyone can do. In addition to helping to control weight, physical activity decreases the risk of dying from coronary heart disease and reduces the risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, and certain cancers.


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