Excess weight has a dramatic impact on one’s health.
Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death. Overweight
and obesity are known risk factors for diabetes, heart disease,
stroke, hypertension, arthritis, sleep apnea, and some forms of
cancer (uterine, breast, colorectal, kidney, prostate, pancreatic
Obesity is associated with stress, incontinence,
menstrual irregularities, excess facial hair, increased surgical
risk, and psychological disorders such as depression.
The most common medical assessment of obesity is the
ody mass index.or BMI. The BMI is a calculation of weight that
takes height into account.
Epidemiological evidence supports the notion that the
BMI associated with the lowest mortality falls within the range of
18.5?4.9, showing that thinner people live much longer (Baird 1994;
Stevens 2000). The majority of adults in the United States are
overweight (BMI over 25), with an increasing number being medically
classified as obese (BMI over 30). Unfortunately, the trend is
increasing. The prevalence of obesity in the United States has
almost doubled compared to the year 1980 (NIH 1998; WHO 1998).
|18.5 - 24.9
|25.0 - 29.9
|30.0 and Above
A study published in the January 8, 2003 issue of
the Journal of the American Medical Association
measured ears of life lost? due to people being
overweight or obese. According to this study, the
optimal BMI (associated with the greatest longevity) is
approximately 23-25 for whites and 23-30 for blacks. This study made
it strikingly clear that the higher BMI measurements significantly
In the January 7, 2003 issue of the
Annals of Internal Medicine , a study documented large
decreases in life expectancy in overweight and obese individuals.
The American Heart Association commented on this study by
stating that overweight people lose three years of life expectancy,
while obese individuals die six to seven years prematurely. The
authors of the study concluded that life expectancy seen in the
obese are “similar to those seen with smoking? (This study also
showed that people who smoke and are obese die almost 14 years
sooner than normal weight nonsmokers.)
Weight gain in
adulthood is associated with significant increased mortality. In the
Framingham Heart Study , the risk of death within 26
years increased by 1% for each extra pound increase in weight
between the ages of 30 years and 42 years and by 2% between the ages
of 50 years and 62 years (Solomon et al. 1997; Kopelman 2000). One
study found that fat loss was associated with a decrease in
mortality rate (Allison et al. 1999).
BMI is just one of
many factors related to developing a chronic disease (such as heart
disease, cancer, or diabetes). Other factors that may be important
to look at when assessing your risk for chronic disease include:
- Physical activity
- Waist circumference
- Blood pressure
- Blood insulin, glucose, cholesterol, C-reactive
protein, homocysteine, etc.
- Family History of disease