Archive for January, 2011

If you’re interested in a hot topic, just mention weight. Through the years, different guides have indicated a healthy weight. Since 1998, health professionals have used the Body Mass Index (BMI) as the standard. The BMI identifies normal, overweight, obese, and extreme obesity.

Weight May Number Your Days

The number of pounds you lug around on your body may help determine how long you will live. Overweight and obesity escalate probabilities for many chronic illnesses and worsen others. As the BMI increases, mortality risks for all ages rise. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 constitutes a healthy weight. Men with a BMI of 23.5 to 24.9 and women with a BMI of 22.0 to 23.4 show the lowest mortality risks.  

What is your healthy weight? For complete information about BMI and to find the chart to evaluate yourself, go to http://www.win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/PDFs/Weightandwaist.pdf    To find your weight-related risk status, start with an accurate scale to assess current weight. Next, decide your correct height. Now go to the BMI chart at the website above and, if possible, make a copy. In the far left-hand column of the BMI chart find your height and follow with your finger across the chart until you reach your current weight. Move your finger up that column and locate the BMI directly above. Indicate that juncture with an X or make a note of the number if you did not make a copy. If that number is 25 or beyond, mark the weight that would lower your BMI score to 24. Make a note of the weight difference between where you are and where you should be for a healthy weight.

For example, if you are 5’4” and weigh 157 pounds, your BMI is 27. To have a score of 24, you must reduce weight to 140 pounds. That means losing seventeen pounds to have a healthy weight.

Congratulations. You have a starting point. You know where you are physically and where you need to go to lower weight-related risk factors. Now, get ready to lose that extra weight to become a healthier you and maybe live longer.

A graph of body mass index is shown above. The...

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Have you heard? January 16 – 22, 2011 is Healthy Weight Week. This event celebrates healthy non-diet lifestyles to prevent eating disorders and weight problems. Healthy Weight Week encourages people to improve health habits by eating well, living actively, and feeling good about themselves. This 18th  annual event, directed by Francie M. Berg of the Healthy Weight Network, features two awards: 

  • The Healthy Body Image Award aims at prevention of eating disorders and body dissatisfaction. It primarily targets school-aged students and addresses the widespread and difficult to treat problems of anorexia.
  • The “Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day” features the Slim Chance Awards.Winners of these worst  weight-loss promotions and products of 2010 were announced in December 2010.

Worst gimmick: Lapex BCS Lipo Laser promises a 3 ½ to 7 inches loss of fat in 3 weeks without going on a diet. Lipolaser promotes a non-diet, non-invasive, pain-free way to lose inches. It supposedly opens fat cells, right through the skin, and “stuff comes out of the fat cells.” The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) states it is not a laser light but an infrared lamp—so probably harmless. Treatments, on special sale, cost as low as $1,497 and up to $5,000 for the typical nine one-hour sessions. Does it work? Save your money.  

Worst claim:  Ultimate Cleanse promoters claim the body should be detoxified regularly to rid it of wastes and toxins. The FDA points out that the body is naturally self-cleaning. The primary ingredient, cascara segrada, is a powerful laxative banned as an ingredient in over-the-counter drugs in 2002. The product supposedly cleanses the bowel, liver, kidneys, lungs, and skin plus bloodstream, cells, and body tissues. Continued use results in several adverse conditions.

Worst product: HCG supplements resurged from popular 1950s weight-loss methods. HCG, human chorionic gonadotropin, is a hormone produced during pregnancy. Promoters claim injections reset the hypothalamus, improve metabolism, and mobilize fat stores. No scientific evidence exists to support these claims. Herbal versions of HCG recommend placing 5 to 10 HCG drops under the tongue several times a day. Interestingly, the program requires a 500 calorie a day diet. Short-term side effects of the program include fatigue, headache, mood swings, depression, and other symptoms.

Most outrageous: Distinction for the most outrageous diet aid went to Basic Research LLC. This company has received many warnings, fines, and ongoing lawsuits from the Federal Trade Commission. The most recent suit involved the “Jillian Michaels Maximum Strength Calorie Control.”

After noting some of the frauds for those hungry to lose extra pounds, consider how you can maintain a healthy weight  plus save money and perhaps your health. Simply make wiser food choices. Shouldn’t every week be a healthy weight week?

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Do you think weight is a personal issue? Think again. Extra pounds affect everyone in some way.

The Society of Actuaries released a dollar figure on obesity in January, 2011. Based on reviews of 500 articles between 1980 and 2009, researchers looked at the relationship of obesity to mortality and morbidity. Overweight and obesity cost as much as $270 billion a year in the United States. Because of increased need for medical care and loss of economic productivity due to death and disability, cost to the U. S. economy in 2009 ranged from $72 billion for the overweight to $198 billion for the obese.  Economic expenditures from overweight and obesity in both the U. S. and Canada were:

  • Total cost of excess medical care resulting from overweight/obesity: $127 billion
  • Loss of economic productivity due to excess mortality: $49 billion
  • Loss of economic productivity due to disability for active workers: $43 billion
  • Loss of economic productivity due to totally disabled workers: $72 billion

Obesity results in several adverse medical conditions. Obesity increases per-capita spending for those expenses and for health-related lost productivity. Costs run as high as $16,000 for obese women who weigh at least 100 pounds more than a healthy weight and $15,000 for obese men.

Although many workers are unwilling to attempt healthier lifestyles, monetary enticements through company programs influence decisions. In a survey of 1,000 Americans 18 years and older, 83 percent stated they would be willing to follow a healthy lifestyle, such as health and wellness programs, if their healthcare plans provided incentives.

While those with excess weight face greater risks of medical problems and decreased longevity, the problem goes beyond themselves. Issues of too much weight are no longer personal. They impact the national work force and our economy. Excessive weight costs everyone.

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Welcome to a new year. If you made resolutions, have you managed to keep them thus far? Many, once again, have resolved to lose weight. Numerous others want to live a healthier lifestyle. Problems with resolutions occur when we slip one time and decide we can’t stick to promises we made to ourselves. One mistake shouldn’t shatter our personal goals for the entire year.

Food Insight, the newsletter of the International Food Information Council Foundation, made holiday suggestions in their December 2010 issue that can help weight conscious people throughout the year. Highlights included the following:

  • Choose at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables. These foods help give satiety and keep calorie intake lower. They also contain fiber plus major sources of vitamins and minerals.
  • For those who imbibe in alcohol, choose lower-calorie options.
  • Focus on portion size. Many exaggerate the amount of a portion. Consider the following  as one serving: meat the size of a deck of card; cooked fruits and vegetables, one-half cup; fresh fruits and vegetables, one cup; and bread the equivalent of one slice. A serving of milk equals one (eight-ounce) cup or one ounce of cheese. 
  • When eating from a buffet, view the entire selections before making choices. To sample a number of items, take no more than two tablespoons of each prepared food.
  • Choose sensible portions of desserts and savor each bite.
  • Keep moving. Whether or not you take part in a regular exercise program, increase daily activities by moving more and sitting less. Take advantage of using stairs instead of elevators or parking farther from your destination. Every calorie burned counts.

These small steps along with other simple calorie-saving measures will help keep you fit and healthy throughout the year. Enjoy your dining experiences without nagging thoughts of continuous calorie-counting.  

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