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Facts About Obesity

The US Surgeon General has declared that overweight and obesity have reached epidemic proportions in this country.

One in three US adults are overweight or obese and 15 percent of children between the ages of six and 19 are overweight. Public health officials say physical inactivity and poor diet are catching up to tobacco as a significant threat to health.

Currently, about 35 percent of women and 31 percent of men are considered seriously overweight. Obesity is a serious, chronic disease that can inflict substantial harm to a personís health.

Overweight and obesity are not the same; rather, they are different points on a continuum of weight ranging from being underweight to being morbidly obese. The percentage of people who fit into these two categories, overweight and obese, is determined by Body Mass Index (BMI).

BMI is a measure of weight proportionate to height. BMI is considered a useful measurement of the amount of body fat. Occasionally, some very muscular people may have a BMI in the overweight range.

However, these people are not considered overweight because muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue. Generally, BMI can be considered an effective way to evaluate whether a person is overweight or obese.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a BMI from 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal while a BMI of more than 25 is considered overweight.

A person is considered obese if the BMI is greater than 30 and morbidly obese if the BMI is 40 or greater. In general, after the age of 50, a manís weight stabilizes and even drops slightly between the ages of 60 and 74. However, a womanís weight continues to increase until age 60 and then begins to drop.

Another measure of obesity is the waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). The WHR is a measurement tool that looks at the proportion of fat stored on the waist, and hips and buttocks. The waist circumference indicates abdominal fat. A waist circumference over 40 inches in men and over 35 inches in women may increase the risk for heart disease and other diseases associated with being overweight.

Always consult your physician for more information.



Phoenix Society, Inc. - PO Box 64 - Annapolis Junction, MD 20701-0064