3 Questions on Obesity

A ‘work-out’?
There are several ways to go about losing weight, other than going to the gym (check out http://www.shapeup.org/index.php for some good weight loss tips), however, fitness weight training and other fitness programs found within the gym are highly recommended when available.  Less than one-third (31.8%) of U.S. adults get regular leisure-time physical activity (defined as light or moderate activity five times or more per week for 30 minutes or more each time), and/or vigorous activity (three times or more per week for 20 minutes or more each time). About 10 percent of adults do no physical activity at all in their leisure time.

Why are women greater targets for obesity?
Biological research identifies many naturally occurring causes for this gender bias. Pregnancy and menopause are significant factors in the development of obesity in women, suggesting that fluctuations in reproductive hormone concentrations uniquely predispose women to excess weight gain. According to WomensHealthResearch.org, women generally have a higher percentage of body fat than men, and there are indications that basal fat oxidation is lower in females as compared to men, thereby contributing to a higher fat storage in women.
Leptin, a molecule produced by fat cells, is an important signal in the regulation of appetite and energy expenditure, and is thought to play a key role in the control of body weight. The level of leptin in the blood is correlated with BMI, and is far higher in women than men at every BMI level. This may be part of the reason why women are more likely than men to become overweight. Testosterone also appears to play a large role in the regulation of leptin levels in the blood; men with higher testosterone levels have lower leptin levels.
Altering our eating habits, physical activity, and behavioral patterns in regards to lifestyle is crucial to fulfilling logical weight loss goals. For more information on this, read Dr. Robert H. Eckel’s paper on obesity and practical weight-loss– http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/reprint/111/15/e257

What else could contributes/is related to obesity?
In response to the prevalence of obesity, the National Institute of Health has launched a program called Healthy People 2010 in order to get America’s obesity problem under control as well as to get a hold on other health disparities. From their research it has been determined that the increase in obesity over the past 30 years has been fueled by a complex interplay of environmental, social, economic, and behavioral factors, acting on a background of genetic susceptibility.
Obesity affects more than just our health. As the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased in the United States, so have related health care direct and indirect cost. Direct health care costs refer to preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services (for example, physician visits, medications, and hospital and nursing home care). Indirect costs are the value of wages lost by people unable to work because of illness or disability, as well as the value of future earnings lost by premature death. In 2003  the direct cost attributed to overweight/obesity was $61 billion with indirect cost of $56 billion (comparable to the economic costs of cigarette smoking). Stated simply, it is just cheaper to be fit. However, “short-cuts” to being fit are in no way more useful as Americans spend billons (about $33 billion in 1990) on weight-loss products and services, such as low-calorie foods, artificially sweetened products such as diet sodas, and memberships to commercial weight-loss centers.
The American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting and Exposition 2005, addressed the obesity issue in its relation to minorities and public health and policy from several angles. These include tax policies to place consumption taxes on less healthful foods and purchasing policies that exert a purchasing preference for higher quality, more healthy foods; education policies to restrict the marketing and availability of lower quality foods in schools; agricultural policies to divert the tens of billions in agricultural subsidies that currently underwrite cheap corn syrups and other un-nutritious commodities in favor of more healthful foods; and transportation policies that impact the built environment. Another tactic is to change current agriculture policies which support an industrialized production paradigm where the U.S. produces large amounts of food.


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