Obesity is a serious and rising health epidemic and has recently been declared a disease by the American Medical Association. It is a condition associated with having an excess of body fat, defined by genetic and environmental factors that are difficult to control when dieting. Obesity is classified as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater.
It is estimated that nearly 93 million Americans are affected by obesity, and that number is predicted to increase to 120 million Americans within the next five years. Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, sleep apnea, and a variety of other conditions.
Risks Associated with Obesity
There are more than 40 medical conditions that are associated with obesity. Individuals who are obese are at risk of developing one or more of these serious medical conditions. The most prevalent obesity-related diseases include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
- Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
Costs Associated with Obesity
According to the CDC, in 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion. Additionally, it was found that the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher per year than those of normal weight.
Benefits of Losing Weight
Medical research suggests that losing just five percent of your body weight can significantly improve your health and reduce the risk of complications from type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Successful management of obesity involves multiple treatment strategies, mostly focusing on modification of an individual’s lifestyle, including diet and physical activity habits.
Behavior modification, although not a medical intervention itself, is a systematic method for modifying eating, exercise or other behaviors that may contribute to or maintain obesity.
Behavior modification strategies, including self-monitoring and social support, are helpful for most individuals affected by obesity, however, they do not guarantee long-term weight-loss maintenance. Without recurrent contact, most or all of the weight individuals lose can be regained within three to five years.
Literature suggests that many people may need medical intervention to get the help they need to achieve their healthy weight, yet there are few FDA-approved medications for obesity.