Eat Healthy, Eat Less

~ October 2002 No.156 ~

Some of us eat to live while others live to eat, but it is becoming more and more apparent that perhaps we all are eating too much. The result of this over-eating is an epidemic of obesity that has struck all of the industrialized nations; an epidemic that affects all ages. Malnutrition until recently was associated with under-nutrition. Now it is becoming associated with over-nutrition (obesity). At the same time, the weight loss industry has become more visible and more aggressive in its advertising. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to lose weight quickly or safely.

The long term consequences of obesity have not been clearly defined, but it is generally believed that obesity in childhood causes a wide range of serious complications, and increases the risk of premature illness and death later in life. Obesity effects nine organ systems and is a risk factor for gastroesophageal reflux disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cholelithiasis, and colon cancer. It has recently been determined that the health costs associated with obesity in the USA are now greater than the health costs associated with smoking.

Looking in the mirror is perhaps the quickest way to determine whether you are overweight. A more scientific approach would be to calculate your body mass index (BMI). To calculate your BMI : take your weight, in kilograms (1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds), measure your height in meters (1 inch = 2.5 centimeters), divide your weight by your height squared (weight multiplied by itself). A BMI of greater than 30 is considered to indicate obesity.

BMI should be used as a guide. It has some limitations; most notably it overestimates body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build, and it may underestimate body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle mass.

The number of calories you consume and the number of calories you burn off each day determine whether you put on weight or not. Fats, oils and fatty foods are concentrated calories in our diet. Cutting back on fatty foods is a good way to reduce calorie intake.

BMI Categories
Category BMI index
Underweight< 18.5
Normal weight= 18.5-24.9
Overweight= 25-29.9
Obese> 30
Calculate your BMI
  1. Reference
  2. Kushner, R.F., Medical management of obesity, Semin Gastrointest. Dis. 13(3):123-32, 2002 Abstract

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