Obesity in America

By Joan Weems, RN

Persons that are overweight do not like other people telling them they are overweight. I was one of those that always thought I was overweight whether I was or not. Well I’ve always struggled with being overweight. This year I got the courage to have a gastric sleeve and have lost 61 pounds.

At work, we have the health insurance people saying, “You have got to get the weight of your people down or your rates for health insurance are going to be doubled.” So we try to have a “healthy business.” And after achieving that award, for several years, too many people still have high blood pressure due to being overweight. We have done the Biggest Loser Contest over and over in the past years, and someone always gets on the band wagon and loses an unreal amount of weight only to gain it back––plus more––because there was no lifestyle change. We encourage walks on breaks, workouts at noon lunch break, and even when having meetings we serve healthy food and snacks.

Life in America has become so fast that many people eat fast foods, most of which are unhealthy. We eat bigger food portions, and move less. As a result, the number of Americans who are overweight or obese (more than 20 pounds overweight) has been rising. One in three American adults are obese, and another one-third are overweight.

Being overweight or obese can have far-reaching health consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excess body weight increases a person’s risk for:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Stroke
  • Liver and gallbladder disease
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Arthritis
  • Abnormal menstrual periods and infertility in women
  • Certain cancers

Overweight and obese people do not live as long as people who stay at a healthy body weight throughout their lives. Being overweight or obese increases your chances of dying from hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, dyslipidemia and endometrial, breast, prostate, and colon cancers. In-depth guides and practical advice about obesity are available from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Not only are more adults overweight or obese, but more children are, too. Among children and teens, about 17% are obese. This number is about three times higher than it was a few decades ago. Some of the same health problems affecting obese adults can also affect obese children. These include heart disease, risk factors such as high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, as well as asthma, sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, muscle and joint problems, and liver disease. Obese children and teens are also at higher risk for social and psychological problems, such as discrimination and poor self-esteem.

Research indicates that staying physically active can help prevent or delay certain diseases, including some cancers, heart disease and diabetes, and also relieve depression and improve mood. Inactivity often accompanies advancing age, but it doesn’t have to. Help can be found with local churches or synagogues, senior centers, and shopping malls for exercise and walking programs. Like exercise, eating habits are often not good if you live and eat alone. It’s important for successful aging to eat foods rich in nutrients and avoid the empty calories in candy and sweets. These things can help you live a long, happy and healthy life.

Victory Home Health & Hospice are prepared to help you with any medical problems or healthcare questions you may have. Located in Southern and Western Oklahoma, we have nine locations to serve you. Home health can help you after a hospital stay, teaching you about your diagnosis, medications, diabetic help, lab draws, wound care, therapy, and nursing staff to ensure you are making progress.

If you have a terminal diagnosis, our hospice can provide nursing, psychosocial, and spiritual care along with pain control to help you get through the most difficult time of one’s life. We also have Victory Medical Equipment, which sells a variety of medical supplies, walkers, wheel chairs, scooters, beds, mattresses, and more. Call our corporate office toll-free at 888-815-7922 or www.victoryhospice.com and they can point you to the location nearest you.