The causes, dangers and prevention of obesity, and how it affects health

Obesity is not a popular subject with most people. But it affects your overall health and plays a major role in how you live.

What qualifies as obesity? A person with a desired weight of 165 who weighs in at 182 is 17 pounds, or 10 percent, overweight.

There are as many ways of determining your proper weight as there are articles written on the subject. Here is one quick way to tally up your proper number. For women, start at 100 pounds and for every inch of height over 5 feet add 5 pounds. So in my case, 5 foot, 2 inches comes to 110 pounds. Then add 10 percent to that figure if you have a heavy frame and subtract 10 percent if you have a light frame.

Men start with a 106-pound base number at 5 feet and add 5 pounds for every added inch in height over the 5-foot height. Add and subtract the amount for heavy or light frame, as with the women.

There are excellent charts available to determine your correct weight. Check with your doctor on the latest up-to-date information. Ideal weight is mainly weight in proportion to your height that will promote well-being and longevity.

Now for some startling facts: If the number you come up with is 20 percent over the recommended amount, expected life span is measurably reduced. That weight is now constituted as medically significant obesity. For example, a person who is 15 to 20 percent overweight stands a 10 percent increased chance of dying during any given year. Twenty-five to 35 percent overweight, the number goes up to a 30 percent chance. Again, there are a lot of statistics available on the percent of risk you run being overweight.

Another interesting fact is that one out of eight schoolkids is obese. If both parents are obese, the child will most likely be. Even one parent overweight will greatly increase the chances of obesity in the child.

Here are some further medical facts for your already overloaded brain: If you are overweight, you are susceptible to a variety of medical problems that are often incapacitating, fatal or simply uncomfortable.

High blood pressure and the possibility of diabetes which can affect the heart, circulation, nerves, eyes and kidneys. These are just some of the health concerns. You are more prone to accidents and an increased risk for surgery. And then you have the social stigma and the psychological effect.

There are five times during your life that you are more prone to becoming overweight: infancy, early childhood, adolescence, pregnancy and early middle age. Fat cells are established in childhood and adolescence, so proper nutritional guidelines need to be started early in life.

Preventing or curing obesity is a matter of not eating more than your body can use up in any given day and getting a good, healthy dose of daily exercise. Multiply your weight by 15 and drop below that number in daily calories to lose weight.

Stop making food the center of your day or your primary concern. There is a lot more to life than pondering the contents of your refrigerator.

n Jerry Vance is owner of The Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Senior Center.


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