Obesity is rising, could threaten improvements in mortality

June 9, 2016 Providence Health Team

Despite widespread efforts to help people improve their health by losing weight, an increasing percentage of people are considered obese, according to two new reports published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Nationally, 35 percent of men and more than 40 percent of women are considered obese. Among children ages 2 to 19, the obesity rate is 17 percent. The figures in the Journal studies are based on data from 2014, the most recent year available.

The editors of the Journal wrote that they feared the nation’s struggle with obesity will “reverse decades of improvements in mortality.”

Some people work hard to lose weight without success, and emerging research has indicated that in some cases, the body can actually work against us when we try to shed pounds.

Nh2>What is considered obese?

In general, obesity is defined by comparing a person’s weight to his or her height to generate a body-mass index, or BMI. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal.

The normal weight for a person who stands 5 feet, 7 inches tall is between 118 and 159 pounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 160 to 191 pounds is considered overweight. Above 191 is considered obese.

The CDC offers a body-mass index calculator that allows you to calculate your own BMI. Here’s what the figures tell you:

  • You’re underweight if your BMI is below 18.5.
  • Your weight is normal if your BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9.
  • You’re overweight if your BMI is between 25 and 29.9.
  • If your BMI is 30 or above, you are considered obese.

Obesity can contribute to other serious health problems, including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

Taking action

A relatively new tool to help us manage our weight is the fitness tracker, a wearable gadget that records your activity and how many calories you burn. Trackers and fitness apps can show how everyday activities such as gardening, walking and even housecleaning can make a difference for people who need to maintain or lose weight.

There’s even a tracker for children – the Sqord, which aims to help kids increase their activity.

For some morbidly obese people, bariatric surgery may significantly improve a person’s quality of life and lessen the possibility of other health problems.

And in some cases, other medical conditions may contribute to obesity. Your health care provider can determine if this is the case. If you don’t have a provider, find a Providence provider here.

You can read the obesity study for adults here, and the study for children and adolescents here.

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