Obesity, or excess weight of roughly 30+ pounds for your Body Mass Index (BMI), is a major health concern for more than one-third of Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For Mexican-American adults, the obesity rate is nearly 41%, and for African American adults the rate is almost 50%, both higher than the overall national average of 36%.
Among African American women, the numbers are especially dramatic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that four out of five African American women are overweight or obese.
Why Obesity Rates Are Causes for Alarm
In response to these startling statistics, the U.S. government has set a goal to eliminate the growing health disparities among racial and ethnic populations. A CDC report states, “Given the overall high prevalence of obesity and the significant differences among minority groups and whites, effective policies and environmental strategies that promote healthy eating and physical activity are needed for all populations and geographic areas, but particularly for those populations and areas disproportionally affected by obesity,”
You may not realize it, but obesity puts individuals at risk for more than 30 chronic health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, gallstones, heart disease, fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, stress, incontinence, heart failure, degenerative joint disease, birth defects, miscarriages, asthma and other respiratory conditions, and numerous cancers.
Reducing your weight to a healthy BMI can significantly improve your quality of life, and reduce your risk of developing chronic conditions.
Tips for Avoiding the Obesity Epidemic
Follow these five tips for maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding obesity:
- Assess your weight: Body Mass Index (BMI) and weight circumference are two screening tools to estimate weight and potential disease risk. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI over 30 is considered obese.
- Engage in physical activities: Basic physical activity is important for overall health and maintaining a healthy weight. Learn about different kinds of physical activity and guidelines for the amount needed each day.
- Make healthier food choices: Eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.
- Exercise regularly: Aim for moderate exercise at least 30 minutes per day.
- Eliminate sugar: Cut down your consumption of fatty and sugary foods.
In short, walk a little more, eat healthier foods, and do what you need to maintain a healthy BMI.
For more information or to schedule an appointment at NHA, please call 419.214.5700 and visit www.nhainc.org.