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Obesity is defined by your Body Mass Index (BMI), or the relationship between your height and your weight.  You can figure out your BMI by clicking here.  A BMI of 18.5- 24.9 is considered a “normal” weight.  A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight.  A BMI of 30 or above is considered obese.

Being overweight or obese puts you at a greater risk for developing many chronic diseases such as:

  • Diabetes

  • Arthritis

  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma and Sleep Apnea

  • Stroke
  • Cancer

  • Heart disease (including heart attacks)
  • Increased violence or injury

  • Reproductive health problems
 

 

 Risk factors:

Overweight and obesity are mainly influenced by lifestyle choices.  The two biggest risk factors are diet and physical inactivity (link to the healthy living page).  Good nutrition and adequate physical activity are essential to maintaining a healthy weight. 

It’s important to understand that weight gain and weight loss is all about a balance- calories in versus calories out.  When you eat more calories than your body burns, you’ll gain weight.  When you eat fewer calories than your body burns, you’ll lose weight.  Your weight will stay the same if your calorie intake is equal to the number of calories you burn.  Gimmicks or Fad-diets may work in the short term, but they won’t lead to sustainable weight loss in the long run, and may even set your body up for additional weight gain or even health problems. 

Other risk factors for obesity include:

Media Use and Influence:

Did you know that .  .  .

  • The television is on for seven hours and 40 minutes per day in the average American home 

  • The average American adult spends four hours a day watching TV

  • The average American kid (between the ages of 2-17) spends a whopping 19 hours and 40 minutes each week watching TV, not including time spent in front of other screens, such as computers or video games

Not only does this take a toll on the amount of time spent being physically active, it also allows media messages to influence us.  Media messages are filled with contradictory images that make us think that we can eat unhealthy foods all the time, and still be thin and attractive.  For instance, they show a gorgeous woman eating a giant hamburger in her bikini or famous athletes guzzling sugary beverages.  Children are especially targeted by these kinds of messages.  Often times a beloved cartoon character is used to market junk food, with the commercials airing during their Saturday morning cartoons or sponsoring their favorite websites.  For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting all screen time (including computers, TV, and video games) to no more than 1-2 hours of “quality programming” for kids ages 3-17, and no screen time for children under two.  As adults, we can also modify our risk, too, by turning off the TV, walking away from our computers, and spending that time being physically active instead.

 

Excessive Pregnancy Weight Gain:

We all know that weight gain during pregnancy is a necessity, but women who gain too much weight during pregnancy are at risk for long term weight gain and retention.  Research has found that pregnant women who gain more than the recommended amount are four times more likely to be obese one year after giving birth than women who gain within the recommended range. 

 

Tobacco Use:

Concerns about weight gain may deter people from quitting smoking and may promote relapse.  It’s important to understand, however, that the benefits of quitting smoking will outweigh the risk of weight gain.  The average smoker gains five pounds after quitting and only a small percentage of smokers gain more than 20 pounds. For this reason, smoking cessation should be accompanied by healthy eating and regular physical activity. As a bonus, quitting smoking improves heart and lung function, which should definitely help with physical activity.  If you’d like to exercise away from all that second hand smoke (which can be a trigger for relapse, not to mention a health hazard), you’ll be glad to know that all parks and public places in Weber and Morgan counties are now smoke free!  For more information, click here.

 

Genetics:

Less than 5% of all obesity cases can be explained by mutations in single genes. Obesity generally involves both the genes you’ve inherited and how those genes are affected by your environment.  Genes can indirectly influence obesity through a variety of ways such as taste, appetite, satiety (a feeling of fullness), metabolic rate, and fat distribution. In addition to pure genetics, family history includes shared behaviors, lifestyle habits, cultural beliefs, and other environmental risk factors among family members.