Obesity is growing in America. More Americans than ever before are overweight and more than a third of all American adults are obese, defined as having a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or higher.
Obesity is a complex health issue, and can result from a combination of many different causes, including personal behavior, genetics, physical activity or inactivity, certain medications and access to healthy, fresh foods and a community that encourages physical activity. A community environment that lacks safe walking and bike trails may discourage people from walking or biking to their destination, and food deserts can make it extremely difficult for community members to access fresh food or healthier options.
The risks of being obese stretch into almost all aspects of health and life. Those who have obesity, compared to those at a healthy weight, are almost always at a higher risk for:
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• Type 2 diabetes
• Heart disease
• Gallbladder disease
• Sleep apnea
• Some cancers
• Mental illness
• Body pain
While there has been research regarding how genetics play a role in obesity, in general, personal behaviors and community environments are the main cause of most obesity in the United States. Family environments and habits combined with a lack of resources to make healthier choices contribute to obesity.
Your doctor can refer you to a dietitian who may be able to help you form a plan to reach a healthy weight. Eating more vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, healthy fats and drinking water combined with 150 minutes of exercise each week is a good place to start when trying to lose weight. Balance the number of calories consumed from food and drink with your activity level—having healthy habits will do far more for you in the long run than any fad or crash diet. Regular physical activity is also important to prevent chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Dr. Gildardo Ceballos
OakBend Medical Group
Disclaimer: The contents of this article, including text and images, are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a medical service. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health professional for medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment.