Obesity is a serious condition that affects more and more Arkansans every year. If you are diagnosed as being obese, it means that you have 30% or more total body mass, usually body fat, than is typically considered healthy for a person of your age, sex and height.
There are many factors that can result in a person being obese. Genetics, mental health issues, eating habits and a lack of physical activity may be contributing issues.
Being obese is not the same as being overweight. Your doctor may use other factors to determine if you are obese, including body measurements. Men with a waist circumference of more than 40 inches and women with a waist circumference of more than 35 inches are at higher risk of weight-related health problems.
While there are often many contributing factors to obesity, the most basic cause is eating more calories than you burn in a day. Your body stores the extra calories as fat to be used later.
Arkansas is tied with Oklahoma as 9th in the nation for the number of adults who are considered obese (36.4%). This is a result of high-calorie diets, lower physical activity rates and sedentary lifestyles. Eating high-calorie foods can trigger your body to need more calories before feeling full, get hungry sooner than normal or eat to cope with stress.
Being obese may lead to more serious medical complications and diseases, including:
- certain types of cancer
- type-2 diabetes
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- sleep apnea
The good news is that losing even 10% of body fat can prevent complications from obesity.
You can also make changes to your lifestyle to get yourself back on track and shed unwanted weight.
Avoiding these pitfalls is a great way to start:
- Inactivity — Many people with obesity work in jobs that require less physical activity. This keeps the body in a state of rest and requires fewer calories to maintain your weight.
- Liquid Calories — Drinking sodas, sports drinks and alcoholic beverages all contribute to your total calories consumed without making you feel full.
- Unhealthy diet — A diet that is low on fresh fruits and vegetables, high in fast food and oversized portions are key contributors to weight gain and obesity.
Other contributing factors to discuss with your doctor include age, hormone levels, diseases such as Prader-Willi syndrome, Cushing syndrome, medications and stress.