What is obesity?
generally defined as the condition of
weighing 20% or more over your ideal weight.
You can find the ideal weight for your
height and sex from a weight chart. An
estimated forty million Americans are obese.
Roughly forty percent of women between the
ages of 40 and 49 are at least 20% over
their ideal weight. The chance of developing
obesity increases as people age probably
because of decreased physical activity in
conjunction with slowing of the metabolism.
Obesity is a
serious condition because it increases your
risk of having major illnesses, such as:
of cancer, such as colon, breast, and
osteoarthritis (the stiff, sore joints
that you can get as you get older).
makes it harder for your health care
provider to give you a good physical exam.
Looking at the inside of your body with
X-rays and other types of scans, as well as
surgery, may also be more difficult.
How does it occur?
The causes of
obesity are not clear. Overeating is not
always the cause. The amount of energy
(calories) your body needs when you are at
rest may be important. You get energy from
the food you eat. The energy you do not use
is stored as fat. Obese people may use less
energy when they are at rest than people who
are not obese. Also, they may burn fewer
calories than non-obese people because it is
harder to be physically active.
The genes you
inherit from your parents can affect your
weight. Children of obese parents are 10
times more likely to become obese than
children whose parents are not obese.
Unhealthy family eating habits may also be a
reason several members of a family are
hormone imbalance causes obesity.
How is it
care provider will measure your weight. He
or she may perform a physical exam and ask
about your medical history. Your blood may
be tested to measure the amount of sugar and
provider thinks you might have
hypothyroidism, a thyroid-stimulating
hormone test might be done. Hypothyroidism
is a condition in which the body does not
produce enough thyroid hormone. Thyroid
hormone controls the amount of energy the
body uses. Typically, people with
hypothyroidism will also have other symptoms
such as fatigue, dry skin, thinning hair and
possibly depression. Occasionally, the
thyroid gland which sits just below the
Adamís Apple may be enlarged.
How is it treated?
your diet is an important first step. To
help you lose weight, your diet should
provide fewer calories a day than your body
needs to maintain your ideal weight. A
dietitian may prescribe a diet for you. He
or she will make sure your new diet provides
fewer calories but is healthy and allows you
to lose weight safely. Your diet should
allow you to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. Do
not fast, follow fad diets, or take drugs
that curb your appetite. These types of
approaches may be very dangerous to your
You will be
taught to change patterns of behavior. For
example, some people eat as a way to cope
with stress, boredom or emotional problems.
If you have serious emotional problems, your
health care provider may refer you to a
psychiatrist or counselor for therapy. You
will need to deal with psychological and
emotional problems if your weight-loss
program is to be successful.
Exercise is a
very important part of a successful
weight-loss program. Once you reach a lower
weight, exercise also helps you stay at that
weight. Aiming for a total of 30 minutes of
aerobic activity on most days of the week
will lower your blood pressure, pulse,
cholesterol, and blood sugar. Regular
exercise also increases your metabolic rate,
which means your body burns more calories,
even as you sleep. Of course, you should
talk to your doctor first regarding which
type and how much exercise is right for you.
options include brisk walking, jogging,
swimming, cycling, aerobics, or a step
aerobics program. Almost any activity that
involves mild to moderate exertion is good.
Tell your health care provider the ways you
plan to exercise. If you have a physical
disability, your provider will help you find
other people can help motivate you. Your
main support group can be your family and
friends. Look also for weight-loss support
groups in your community.
some prescription medications that are
available but they may have significant side
effects and are typically reserved for
patients who are severely obese and not
responding to conservative measures.
in severe circumstances, your doctor may
refer you to a surgeon for consideration of
certain surgical procedures that decrease
the amount of food you are able to eat.
is a quick fix, but there are risks inherent
to this procedure and it doesn't get at the
heart of the behavioral problems that lead
to obesity in the first place.
How can I take
care of myself?
yourself, follow these guidelines:
plan for healthy eating.
Take a class
in preparing low-calorie meals.
low-calorie cookbooks. Check your public
library or local county extension
Keep a daily
record of the foods you eat and drink.
Write everything down.
vitamins and mineral supplements only if
your health care provider recommends
them. They may make you hungrier.
least six 8-ounce glasses of water a
day. Choose other drinks with no
alcohol and caffeine
weight-loss support group.
and articles or watch TV shows that
discuss losing weight.
regular physical activity in moderation,
following your health care provider's
Keep a daily
record of your exercise.
friend to exercise with you.
your appointments with the dietitian or
Learn to use
relaxation techniques such as deep
breathing to help you deal with stress.
feelings, challenges, and successes at a
support group or with your health care
people have trouble keeping weight off.
Often this is caused by emotional problems
that occur when they are trying to lose
weight. Weight loss can trigger severe
depression or even psychosis if you were
obese as a child or if you have been
depressed because of your obesity. If you
feel compelled to eat excessively or raid
the refrigerator late at night, you may be
suffering emotional distress. If you are
already under stress, your health care
provider may decide that you should not try
to lose weight until your life becomes more
Be aware that
after you lose weight, the ways you relate
to other people may change because of your
How can I avoid
excess weight occurs over a long period.
Losing that weight requires motivation and
discipline. To maintain a healthy weight you
must eat healthy foods and develop the habit
of being physically active. Try to stay as
close to your ideal weight as possible.
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