We’ve all heard the statistics. Americans are getting fat. Kids, young adults, the middle aged and seniors — we are all packing on the pounds. And as society gets heavier, the implications are becoming abundantly clear: extra weight leads to health issues and even premature death.
What’s an extra 20 pounds?
In 2015, 40% of 4 million deaths linked to weight were in people who weren’t even considered obese, just overweight.1 For those who gain more, the risks are even greater. Did you know that 44 extra pounds in midlife increases your risk of type 2 diabetes by 10 times?2 Other weight-related complications include high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other conditions.
But it’s just baby fat …
Kids are not immune to the side effects of obesity but may suffer even more than adults from the emotional toll. A recent study found that heavy kids faced three times the risk of depression in adulthood. That risks accelerates as children age — overweight or obese children were three times more likely to suffer from depression as adults and four times more likely if they were obese as a child and adult.3
I’ve heard the statistics, but what do I do?
Small changes can make a big difference — losing just 7% of your body weight can cut your risk of diabetes by 60%.4 Drastic diet changes and following every weight loss fad will not get you there, but here are a few suggestions backed by research:
- Weigh yourself regularly. Being aware of your weight creeping up lets you address it early.2
- Drink water. Substituting water for sugar-sweetened drinks lowers the risk of obesity by 15%.5
- Limit artificially sweetened drinks. The research is still ongoing but indications are that aspartame, saccharin and sucralose showed no major weight-loss benefits, and in fact, may have the opposite effect.6
- Get moving. No one is saying you need to run a 5K every weekend — just move. Walking is a great activity that nearly anyone can do. A global study found that waistlines have widened in locations where walking rates have declined.7 Invest in a good pair of shoes and get started — one step at a time.
- Sleep. Studies have shown a lack of sleep may contribute to obesity.
But I don’t like to diet
Does this mean you can never eat sweets again? Of course not. Instead of thinking about food as inherently “good” or “bad,” think of it in terms of the fuel your body needs. Fill your plate with vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish and nonfat dairy products. Cake for dessert? Sure, just don’t overindulge. Depriving yourself of the foods you enjoy will only work in the short term — keep them as part of your diet, but in proportion.
Take your time
We’ve all tried the fad diets that promise a quick fix — eat this, drink this, take this pill and lose 20 pounds in 20 days (C’mon, who among us hasn’t tried cabbage soup, grapefruit, or some strange lemon juice and cayenne pepper concoction?). Crash diets don’t work and can be harmful. It took you time to put on the weight, and it will take time to get back to a healthy weight. It’s not easy to change your lifestyle, but you can do it!
Talk to your doctor
The most dreaded part of any doctor visit is stepping on that scale. But don’t let momentary embarrassment keep you from asking for your doctor’s help in finding the best way for you to take control of your weight to live a long and healthy life. If you need help, ask — your body will thank you for it.
Health Mart. Caring for you and about you.
- HealthDay: “2 Billion Worldwide Are Obese or Overweight.” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166514.html Accessed 8-2-17.
- HealthDay: “More Evidence That Midlife Weight Gain Harms Your Health.” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167272.html Accessed 8-2-17.
- HealthDay: “Heavy Kids Face Triple the Odds for Depression in Adulthood.” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_165743.html Accessed 8-2-17.
- WebMD: “Weight and Diabetes: Lose Pounds to Lower Your Risk.” Available at: http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/features/diabetes-weight-loss-finding-the-right-path#1 Accessed 8-2-17.
- HealthDay: “Drink Water, Fight Fat?” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_165714.html Accessed 8-2-17.
- HealthDay: “Could Artificial Sweeteners Raise Your Odds for Obesity?” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167249.html Accessed 8-2-17.
- NHLBI: “Overweight and Obesity/Treatment.” Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/treatment Accessed 8-2-17.
Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice. You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.
Posted on Fri, September 1, 2017
by Jana Spaulding