Obesity: Risks of Being Overweight
Obesity: Risks of Being Overweight

In recent years, there has been a cultural shift designed toward creating an atmosphere of acceptance and even celebration of obesity. Media and marketing campaigns have gone from advocating physical fitness to essentially promoting the message that all body sizes are equally healthy and desirable. Although inclusion is important, it’s more important for those struggling with weight to understand the risks of obesity.

What is Obesity?
The clinical definition of obesity is having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 and above. To determine your BMI, divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared and multiply by 703 (or use an online calculator).

How Does Obesity Hurt Your Health?
Physical and cosmetic hurdles aside, obesity is the second-leading cause of death in the U.S. behind smoking. This is due to all the diseases and risk factors associated with obesity, most of which disappear when a healthy weight is achieved. These are some of the most serious complications of living with obesity:

• Heart disease and stroke
• Certain types of cancer
• Type 2 diabetes
• Sleep apnea
• Osteoarthritis
• Gallbladder disease
• Gout
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol

Some less serious but still troubling side-effects of obesity that can erode your quality of life include sexual disfunction, gynecological problems, depression, social isolation and the ability to work.

Treating Obesity
Obviously, weight loss is the goal. As with any major lifestyle change, the first step is acknowledging the problem and making a personal commitment to address it. This may include reevaluating personal relationships, shifting your routine and accepting being uncomfortable periodically on your journey to a healthy weight.

How To Begin
Start by talking to your doctor about the best route to take, and avoid quick weight-loss schemes. These can be just as harmful as obesity and won’t last. By slowly adding exercise and limiting calories, you will eventually begin to burn fat and lose weight. The good news is that even a loss of 10 to 20 pounds can have an immediate benefit to your health. You will probably find that you feel much better physically and emotionally, have greater mobility, and enjoy the self-esteem boost that comes with overcoming a difficult challenge. These benefits will increase as you continue to drop excess pounds, and your risks of early death will drop in half once you reach a healthy weight.