Obesity in America Introduction to Term Paper

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In some cases, doctors can prescribe weight-loss medicines along with a program of diet and exercise."

Researchers believe that anyone with a BMI of 30 or higher can improve his health through weight loss (Gilles, 2003). This is particularly true for those who are severely obese. Sometimes a weight loss of just 5 to 10% can vastly improve health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

An increase in physical activity is one highly recommended form of treatment for obese people (Pories et al., 1995). Exercise increases energy expenditure, improves health conditions, combats depression, and helps maintain weight loss. In most cases, 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity is recommended most days of the week. In a study of women who had regained lost weight compared to those who maintained their weight loss, researchers found that 90% of maintainers engaged in vigorous exercise at least three times per week for at least 30 minutes, whereas only 34% of the regainers reported this level of activity.

Surgery for obesity is another common treatment. It alters the stomach or the intestines so that the person digests less food or is satisfied with less food (the Center for the Study and Treatment of Obesity, 2004). These operations have improved over the years and are now considered a safe and acceptable way to help obese people lose weight and maintain weight loss.

Like all operations, surgery for weight loss is risky, and for that reason, surgery is recommended only for morbidly obese persons (BMI greater than 40, or greater than 35 if the person has serious obesity-related medical problems) (the Center for the Study and Treatment of Obesity, 2004). According to Valley Health, patients usually lose 50% of their excess weight during the first 12 to 18 months following surgery. Five years after surgery, the success rate is 70% to 80%.

Obesity Prevention: Conclusions and Recommendations

Obese children are more likely to be obese as adults (Texas Heart Institute, 2004). Researchers believe that the fat cells gained as children stay with adults. Obese children may have five times more fat cells than children of normal weight. Dieting in adulthood decreases the fat-cell size but not the actual number of fat cells.

There are many steps that can be taken to prevent or treat obesity (Hemmelgarn, 2004). It is important for children to develop a love for physical activity and healthy food. Those healthy lifestyle habits are more likely to last a lifetime if they are developed at an early age. Howver, many parents unwittingly teach their children to enjoy fast food meals, soft drinks and television viewing, not realizing that they are more likely to take those unhealthy habits into adulthood. Simply limiting television watching can result in weight loss.

For adults who are obese, health experts recommend maintaining 10 to 15% weight loss six months or longer to reduce obesity-related risk factors (Women's Health, 2004). For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, losing 15% of your body weight means losing 30 pounds. "To make lifestyle changes, you need to be able to follow your nutrition and activity routines in the real world," according to Kathleen Shook, M.D., M-Plan associate medical director.. "A weight loss or maintenance plan should be simple so you can stick with it."

Obesity experts say that people should lose weight if they have two or more of the following factors (Gilles, 2003):

Family history of such chronic diseases as heart disease or diabetes;

Preexisting medical conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar, which are all warning signs of obesity-related diseases; and an "apple" body shape. If your weight is concentrated around your waist, you may be at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, or cancer.."

Many basic healthy behaviors are recommending for preventing and treating obesity. For example, eating four diverse servings of food a day is strongly recommended. "Often, people eat just one or two times a day," Shook said (Women's Health, 2004). "The problem is they're huge portions. To decrease cravings, eat small and frequent meals."

When selecting foods, it is important to eat a variety to get enough vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals, all of which play a role in reducing chronic disease risk (Women's Health, 2004). The American Diabetes Association provides the following guidelines:

Healthy carbohydrate choices are dried beans, peas and lentils; whole-grain breads, cereals and crackers; and fruits and vegetables.

Stay away from simple carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries.

Pick proteins like lean meats and low-fat dairy products.

Limit fat in your diet by choosing lean meats, fish and poultry, diet.

Limit sweets

Finally, research has proven that regular exercise, especially in combination with a good diet, works wonders to prevent and treat obesity (Women's Health, 2004), as it promotes weight loss and maintenance. To address obesity and diabetes, it is recommended that people get 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week to maintain good health and 60 minutes to lose weight.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP). (2004). Defining Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/about.htm.

Gilles, Gary. (2003). A Growing Epidemic: Severe Obesity Is on the Rise. Rockhill Communications.

Hemmelgarn, Melinda. (2004). Foods and Fitness. Missouri Families. Retrieved from the Internet at http://missourifamilies.org/quick/nutritionqa/nutqa52.htm.

Medical Network Inc. (2004). What Causes Obesity? HealthAtoZ.com. Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.healthatoz.com/healthatoz/Atoz/dc/caz/nutr/obes/causes.jsp.

Pories, W.J., Swanson, M.S., MacDonald, K.G., Long, S.B., Morris, P.G., Brown, B.M., Barakat, H.A., deRamon, R.A., Israel, G., Dolezal, J.M., et al. (1995): Who would have thought it? An operation proves to be the most effective therapy for adult-onset diabetes mellitus. Ann. Surg., 222:339-350.

Stunkard AJ, Wadden TA. (1993). Obesity: theory and therapy, Second Edition. New York: Raven Press.

Texas Heart Institute. (2004). Obesity. Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.tmc.edu/thi/obesity.html.

The Center for the Study and Treatment of Obesity. (2004).…[continue]

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