Let’s talk about size diversity

Let’s talk about size diversity

Posted: Friday, December 7, 2012 9:05 pm

Well, this is a touchy subject – size!  I don’t mean how tall you are, I mean how big around you are.  This is becoming more and more of a topic of discrimination as the residents of the US get heavier and heavier.
So how do you define obesity and determine a difference between overweight and obese?  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the two terms, overweight and obese, are labels for ranges of weight that are greater than what is considered a healthy weight for your height.  This is also used to identify weight ranges that lead to certain health problems.  Weight and height are used to determine a person’s body mass index (BMI).  As an adult if your BMI is between 25 and 29.9 you are considered overweight.  If it is 30 or higher you are considered obese.  The ideal BMI for an adult is between 18.5 and 24.9.    Okay, so if you are 5’9”, weigh 203 pounds or more and have a BMI of 30 or higher, you are considered to be obese.
Okay, so how do you calculate your BMI?  I searched several sites for this one and came up with the same method several times so here goes.  You multiply your weight in pounds by 703 and then divide that number by your height in inches squared!  Hmmm!  So if I am 5’6” and weight 140 pounds how does that look?  Okay 5’6” is 66” and if you square that it is 4,356.  Then 140 times 703 is 98,420.  Now I divide 98,420 by 4,356 and I get 22.594123.  Since that is below 25 the person with this height and weight is not considered overweight.   
Okay what about children?  What is the calculation for them?  A child’s BMI is used to determine childhood overweight and obesity.  The BMI is not determined using the same calculations as for an adult.  A child’s BMI is determined using age- and sex-specific percentiles.  The CDC has developed growth charts for use in determining these percentiles.  (You can access these charts at http://www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/cdc_charts.htm).    If a child’s BMI is between the 85th and 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex they are considered overweight.  If the BMI is above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex they are considered to be obese.
A CDC data brief reports that 35.7% of the US adults are obese.  The highest age-adjusted rates of obesity are non-Hispanic blacks with 49.5% of this group being obese compared to 39.1% of all Hispanics and 34.3% of non-Hispanic whites being obese.  Higher income non-Hispanic blacks and Mexican-American men are more likely to be obese than men with low income.  Conversely, high-income women are less likely to be obese than low-income women. 
Education plays a significant relationship in obesity among women in that college educated women are less likely to be obese than women without a college degree.  Education doesn’t seem to play a role in the obesity of me.   Obesity has increased between 1988 and 2008 in all income and education levels. 
In 2010 the Trust for America’s Health (TAH) found that eight states in the US have adult obesity rates over 30% – Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and West Virginia. Tennessee was ranked as the second most obese state in the nation.  The TAH reported that 31.6% of Tennessee’s adults are obese with more males than females falling into this category. 
The report also indicated that of the 11 states with the highest rates of obesity ten are in the South.  This report also substantiated the CDC data brief regarding income level reporting that 35.3% of obese adults earn less than $15,000 per year.   The TAH reported ranked Tennessee 6th in childhood obesity with 20.6% of the children being classified as obese.  However, there is some good news. 
In September 2012 the Tennessee Obesity Task Force (TOTF) reported that obesity rates in Tennessee have gone down two years in a row.  This decrease, according to TOTF places Tennessee as the 15th most obese state in the country.  PBS reports the obesity level in Weakley County, TN as 31.1%.
So what?  We have some overweight people.  What does that matter?   We just like to eat in the South.  Good fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cornbread is hard to pass up.  Well, let’s see!  What about health risks?
Let’s look at the health risks for obese children.  The CDC reports that obese children are more likely to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, problems breathing, asthma, joint problems, musculoskeletal discomfort, fatty liver disease, gallstones, and acid reflux to name a few health risks.  One study showed that 70% of the obese children studied had at least one of these risks with 39% having more than one.  In addition to the listed health risks obese children are more likely to be obese adults that is more severe that obese adults who were not obese as children.  Yikes!
Now how about obese adults!  The CDC reports that 80% of the adults with type 2 diabetes are obese or overweight.  Obesity also contributes to heart attack, congestive heart failure, sudden cardiac death, angina, and abnormal heart rhythm.   Overweight and obese persons are also more likely to have high blood pressure.  Studies show that blood pressure rises as body weight increases.  There are also a growing number of overweight and obese persons with metabolic syndrome.  This is a collection of health problems that include obesity, hypertension, abnormal lipid levels and high blood sugar.   The CDC reports that about 47 million people in the US are affected by metabolic syndrome.
Oh goodness, where is the phone?  Call Jenny Craig right now!  Sign up for Weight Watchers!  Where can I get Nutra-System?  Which diet is best Adkins or South Beach!  Hold on!  It isn’t that simple!  This problem is not easily resolved.  There is no quick fix.  The 2010 report of the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity and The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation 2010 indicate that this problem needs to be attacked in a thorough manner.   A person’s diet is not the only factor that needs to be addressed.  Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand in reducing weight and improving one’s health.  Additionally, the eating habits of individuals plays a huge part in weight management.  How many times have you been to LaCabana or Las Palmas and ordered chicken fajitas without the vegetables?  Oh!  That matters?  Yes!!   Studies show that increased physical activity, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and the decreased consumption of highly energy-dense foods and sugar-sweetened drinks will lead to weight loss. 
Okay, what are energy-dense foods?    Let’s deal with energy-dense foods first.  Livestrong.com reports that there are two types of energy-dense foods – nutrient-rich and nutrient-poor.  Energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods should be avoided.  These include cookies, cakes, doughnuts, chips, refined foods, snack foods, soda, desserts, and candy.   Energy-dense, nutrient-rich foods include olive and canola oils, fruits, avocados, dried fruits, 100% fruit juices without sugar or syrups as sweeteners, potatoes (not smothered in butter, etc.), whole grain oatmeal, brown rice, milk, eggs, cheese, nuts and fish.  This is a partial list and more information can be found at http://www.livestrong.com/article/321875-what-are-energy-dense-foods/   and  https://www.myctb.org/wst/npaoeval/Shared%20Documents/Guidance%20Document%204.%20Energy%20Dense%20Foods.pdf
And!???  Well I guess the best way to reduce the number of overweight and obese people is through education.   Do you know which foods stimulate appetite-supressing hormones that make you feel full?  Ahh!  Thought so!  The answer is unrefined foods high in fiber. 
Also eating breakfast and having regularly scheduled meals helps keep hormone levels stable and diminishes those hunger pangs.  Then there is inhaling your food instead of taking time to enjoy what you are eating. 
The slower you eat the more likely that you will eat less.  Cut back on the carbohydrates.  If you don’t take in carbs your body will burn fat.  It isn’t what you eat it is how much you eat. 
Learn portion control.  (http://weightloss.about.com/od/eatsmart/tp/aa030405a.htm) If you take in fewer calories because of smaller portions, your body stores less fat.  (http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/portion_size.html)   Cut out meat, simple carbs like sugar and alcohol.  Learn shat makes you fat.  We are all different in this respect. 
We all want to be healthy and live a productive and happy life.  So why not eat to live rather than live to eat???
Published in The WCP 12.6.12

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