Four things you might not know about obesity
America is battling the bulge, and not just when it comes to those extra holiday pounds. Generally speaking, gaining a few extra pounds around the holidays isn’t a huge deal, unless a person is overweight to begin with.
The United States has the highest obesity rate in the world. Since 1980, the rate of obesity in American adults has doubled.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of American adults are obese. The CDC further forecasts that 42 percent of Americans will be obese by the year 2030.
Is that really such a big deal? It sure is, and here is why:
• Your weight is closely connected to how long you live. Depending on demographic factors such as age, sex, and race, obesity decreases life expectancy by 6-20 years.
• Being overweight may make you sick — very sick. Obesity is associated with a higher risk for cancer, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer and liver cancer. Heart disease, which is commonly attributed to obesity, is the No. 1 cause of death in America. Other serious health conditions associated with obesity include hypertension, type 2 diabetes, chronic fatigue, gallbladder disease and stroke.
• Expect obesity to hurt you in the wallet. A 2009 study found that medical costs for an obese person are 42 percent higher than they are for someone of normal weight; that translates to almost $1,500 a year more. Attaining a body mass index in the normal range is one of the most effective ways that you can decrease your out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures.
• You may be surprised by who can best help you manage your weight. Depending on the source(s) of your weight issues, the best type of healthcare professional to assist you may be a bariatric physician, a bariatric surgeon, a dietician/nutritionist or a psychologist. That’s right … a psychologist. Psychologists are experts when it comes to helping individuals make better choices in changing their lifestyles, habits and behaviors. Psychologists can also help you change the way you think about food and exercise. Signs that a psychologist may be your best bet for managing your weight include:
• Lack of self-control around food.
• Eating when you are not really hungry.
• Eating when you are stressed, anxious, depressed or bored.
• Using food as a reward, or denying yourself food as a punishment.
• Feeling like you are addicted to food.
• Wanting to start a diet or exercise regimen, but not finding the motivation to do so.
• Feeling guilty or ashamed of your eating or your body.
If you are overweight or obese, now is the time to get healthy again. Of course, just because you think you are fat doesn’t mean you are truly overweight. The best way to understand whether your weight puts you at risk for health problems is to consult your doctor. Then determine the right type of health-care professional to help you get back to a healthy, happy weight.
— Daniel Goldman, Ph. D., is a licensed psychologist. If you think you have a problem, pick up the phone and call today. You’ll feel better tomorrow.