The Double “O” Of Poor Health

By: cathy


For many people around the world, the struggle with being overweight is more than just an issue of aesthetics or physical appearance. It is a very real health concern for almost 300 million people around the world. What is even more alarming is that 22 million of the world's children below five years old are classified as obese or overweight. Based on a 2000 study released by Media Awareness Network, eight out of 10 Americans above 25 years of age are overweight. The actual figures show that 58 million Americans are overweight and 40 million are obese.

To the average person, being overweight is visually judged and not measured accurately based on medical or scientific parameters. Having the so-called love handles, beer belly, and other bulges around the body are often the obvious signs of being overweight. Being overweight generally indicates that a person has more body fat than what is considered useful for the body's functions. Obesity, on the other hand, is defined as a condition in which the stored fatty tissues in a person's body are increased to a point where it is already a health risk.

There are actual standards set by nutritionist-dietitians using the Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a statistical measure of the weight and body fat of a person scaled according to height. BMI is used by health professionals to discuss a patient's “thinness” or “fatness.” However, there are limits to the use of BMI as a health assessment tool since it may overestimate body fat in athletes and other individuals who are well-built; and it may underestimate body fat in the elderly or those who have lost muscle mass. Another method used to as a health assessment tool is called Waist Circumference Factor, which is simply the measurement of the distance around a person's abdomen. Based on an advisory released by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, those who are at risk of developing heart problems and other chronic diseases are women with a waist circumference of over 35 inches; and men with a waist circumference of more than 40 inches. For Asian populations, the World Health Organization has recommended that women maintain a waist circumference of not over 31 inches; and not more that 35 inches for men.

But what does waist line circumference or body mass index all add up to? Why do we need to know our weight or the measurement of our waistline? Researches and studies all point out that overweight or obese individuals are more prone to heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems, and a host of other serious illnesses.

The good news is that many people are now more conscious about their weight and health in general. The remarkable growth of the sports and fitness industries point out that more and more people are taking their physical health more seriously. Enrollment in gyms and other health clubs have risen over the years. The popularity of the fitness franchises like Gold's Gym and Fitness First not only in America but in other parts of the world have made weight lifting and aerobics household words. Even in places where gym memberships are considered as luxuries, minds are being changed as awareness about the need for regular physical exercise is made more widespread and in-depth. In fact, a number of fitness programs have sprung up and have become the latest fads followed by fitness buffs and regular people alike. Pilates, boxing, tae-bo, yoga, and even belly dancing are among the most popular routines utilized by professional fitness experts to teach people who want to lose weight or those who want to improve their physical appearance.

Still, doing physical exercise may no longer be an option for certain people. Those who are extremely overweight or obese need more help in losing unwanted pounds. The use of a weight loss pill is one of the options that can be taken to shed the extra weight. If properly used under the supervision of a health care professional, a weight loss pill can work like a miracle drug. It is important to know that not every weight loss pill works the same. There are as much number of unfounded claims as there are brands of herbal or dietary pills in the market. These claims can range from the decreasing a person's appetite to ensuring the increase of calorie and fat metabolism. Quite curiously, almost all of these products claim to be the “best weight loss pill.” Some of these products contain herbs, botanicals, laxatives and even caffeine. The safety or efficacy of these ingredients when taken together has not yet been properly established. Therefore, it is important to be fully informed about the weight loss products they purchase.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a weight loss diet pill called Orlistat (commonly marketed under the brand name Xenical) that is used in conjunction with a reduced-calorie or low-fat diet and regular exercise. This product works by blocking fat absorption in the intestine. In capsule form, this rapid weight loss pill is taken three times a day with meals.

Indeed, one need not become part of the statistics. Weight loss is not an impossible goal especially if one gets adequate advice from a health professional. The combination of regular exercise, low-fat diet and, if necessary, the use of weight reduction medications can put an overweight or obese individual on the road back to health.

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