Fat Joe is a music superstar in the hip-hop genre. As his success in the music industry increased, so did his weight. Many of his friends in the music business were also obese. Fat Joe decided it was time to lose weight after several of his obese friends succumbed to heart attacks at a young age. So, he began to exercise more, and to eat fruits and vegetables instead of steaks and lobster. As he lost weight, his diabetes came under control. Fat Joe has since become a role model for healthy living.
Fat Joe is not alone. More than one third of adults in the United States are obese. At least another third are overweight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is responsible for some of the leading causes of preventable death including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. The medical costs to the U.S. healthcare system associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion annually.
At what weight would I be considered to be overweight or obese? The range for normal weight is based on your height. This ratio is called the “Body Mass Index (BMI). Normal BMI is between 18.5 to 24.9. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 to 29.9. People with a Body Mass Index of 30 or higher are considered to be obese. To calculate your BMI, just enter your height and weight into the calculator: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html
Fat Joe’s secret to weight loss is no secret. It is just a matter of following a healthy diet that stays within your calorie needs. A healthy diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. It includes limited amounts of lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts, and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars. For more information about weight loss dieting, visit the National Institutes of Health website: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/eat.htm
Maintaining proper exercise is also important in maintaining a healthy weight. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommendations for exercise are:
- All adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.
- For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
- For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.
- Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits. For more information on exercise, visit the Physical Activity Guidelines website: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx
What about diet pills and bariatric surgery?
Weight loss medications and bariatric surgery may be considered for some individuals. Weight loss medications tend to be expensive, with limited benefits, and often have significant side effects and therefore are not in widespread use.
Bariatric surgery may be considered for adults with severe obesity defined as a BMI > 40 or a BMI > 35 with associated health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or severe sleep apnea. Information about bariatric surgery can be found at the National Institutes of Health website: http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/gastric.htm
Those individuals considering bariatric surgery or weight loss medications must also include diet and exercise as part of their weight loss plan. The weight comes on over time, one pound at a time, and that is the only way to take it off.