Obesity Risks Too Big To Ignore
Story By COSHANDRA DILLARD
In these pages, we often emphasize weight loss and for good reason. Excess body fat can create problems that rob us of a healthy, happy life. According to the American Council on Science and Health, obesity shortens life expectancy by six to seven years.
More than one-third of the country is obese and the majority of us -- at least two-thirds -- are overweight. This figure corresponds with America's health care crisis, which includes mounting medical costs.
Health care reform has emphasized the need for more preventive care and a more proactive approach to remaining healthy instead of treating disease once it happens. For most people, obesity can be prevented.
By now, we understand that obesity spurs chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but there are some issues we don't talk about.
Obese people also have a three times greater risk of developing asthma. Arthritis and sleep apnea can be brought on by obesity as well.
According to the National Cancer Institute, obesity increases the risk of cancer in the pancreas, esophagus, colon/rectum, breast (after menopause), endometrium, kidney, thyroid and gallbladder.
The risk of post-surgical infection is greater because it may take more time to operate in obese people. Obesity can cause urinary incontinence and fertility issues. For women, pregnancy can be complicated by obesity in the form of gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. In men, it could yield erectile dysfunction and may decrease viable sperm production.
The skin also is affected by obesity, as there's an increased risk of developing psoriasis. There's an increased risk of gallstones, deep-vein thrombosis, and the list goes on.
Often, to reduce the risks or alleviate these problems, there doesn't have to be a significant weight loss. Losing between 5 and 10 percent of body weight can improve a host of health maladies. We really don't realize how those problems have been a hindrance until the weight comes off.
But I'll carefully note that this isn't about fat-bashing or fat-shaming, a real concern for some who are obese. Obese people often are ridiculed in TV and film, as well as in real life. It certainly makes their lives difficult on many levels.
We can be beautiful, confident and worthy at every size. That's not the issue. The issue is that we should be aware of factors that potentially lessen our quality of life (or end it) and encourage one another to make changes.
Learning how to change can be difficult, especially to people who feel as though they need to conform to look like everyone else. So, let's continue to encourage, not shame one another. As you read about the success stories and features on the newest fitness trends, remember there are many paths on the road to wellness.
Follow Staff Writer Coshandra Dillard on Facebook at Coshandra Dillard of the Tyler Morning Telegraph and on Twitter, @CDillard_TMT.