Obesity means that you have an unhealthy amount of body fat. Doctors say that women with more than 30% body fat are obese and men with more than 25% body fat are obese. Everyone needs some body fat, but too much fat can cause health problems.
Two common causes for being overweight are eating too much and not being active enough. If you eat more calories than your body burns up, the extra calories are stored as fat. Everyone has some stored fat. Too much fat results in being overweight. In the past, people believed that you got obese by eating too much and being lazy. Now, doctors are finding out that obesity may run in families and that obesity may be affected by many factors. It may not be caused just by your eating and exercise habits.
More than one third of women in the United States ages 20 to 74 are obese. The number of obese women among African American, Native American and Mexican American women is even higher.
There are a number of serious medical and emotional problems linked to obesity. This means that if you are obese, you have more chance of getting these problems than someone who is not obese. Medical problems linked to obesity include: heart disease; stroke; betes; cancer of the gallbladder, breast, uterus, cervix, and ovaries; gallstones or gallbladder disease; arthritis;
gout; breathing problems; high blood cholesterol; and high blood pressure.
Emotional problems linked to obesity include:
feeling depressed; feeling rejected; feeling shameful; feeling unattractive; and feeling painfully awkward and shy in social settings.
Obese people may face discrimination at work, at school, and in social settings.
Lose weight. Losing as little as 5% to 10% of your body weight may help lower your blood pressure or help keep your diabetes under control. For example if you weigh 200 pounds, losing 10 to 20 pounds (5% to 10% of your weight) may help your health. Talk with your doctor about the best weight loss plan for you. Do not go on fad diets. These can often hurt your health. Choose a weight loss plan that makes sense for you.
For More Information
You can find out more about obesity by contacting the National Women's Health Information Center (800-994-9662) or the following organizations:
Weight Control Information Network
Phone: (800) 946-8098
Internet Address: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health/nutrit/win.htm
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Obesity Education
Internet Address: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/index.htm
Publication date: 1999
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