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Obesity: The Forgotten Pandemic

As we live in the current covid-19 pandemic, our minds shift to how we can maintain health and safety for ourselves and for our neighbor. Taking extra precautions such as social distancing and masking has been a regular part of our life for over a year now, but what if we treated the obesity “pandemic” in the same way?

So what is obesity defined as? Obesity can be defined in a multitude of ways. Some define obesity as a BMI (body mass index) over 30. “Body mass index” is an indicator of how much body fat a person has based on height and weight. Obesity can also be defined in body fat %, which is the percentage of your body that is fat. For men it’s roughly 26% and up, and for women it’s roughly 32% and up. Obesity is so easily forgotten, and so easily ignored. Obesity is essentially a cause of long-term habits that affect health and quality of life. Studies show that in the United States alone, roughly 40% of the population is “obese”. This is a jarring number when you consider that 20 years ago, that number was 30%. Studies show that by 2030, over 50% of Americans will be in the “obesity” range, with 80% expected to be “overweight”. Childhood obesity has also tripled since 1980. In 1980, the obesity rate for children was 6.5%. Now that percentage is roughly 20%. All these percentages are extremely concerning, and most of it can be attributed to how we eat and exercise. Sure, genetics do play a role in weight and overall health, but eating and exercise (or lack thereof) are the main two culprits of being overweight and/or obese.

So why is obesity such a bad thing? Well, obesity of course increases the risk for cardiovascular (heart) disease, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases. In the United States, 15-20% of cancer deaths are related to obesity. Along with this, the obese population has a life expectancy that can be up to 20 years less than the average population.  Obesity also greatly affects quality of life, as well. People who struggle with obesity or being overweight also can struggle with daily activities, exercise, and mental health. To further that point, obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle is one of the main contributing factors to the rise in depression and anxiety.

What do we do about obesity? Well, it starts with making a decision about your short-term and long-term health. Doing annual checkups with the doctor to stay on top of your health is important, even at a young age. Being active and exercising to combat obesity or change lifestyle habits is important, and will increase longevity and overall health. Lastly, eating less fast food and sugary foods is vital to your long-term health and obesity avoidance. More fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and water will help cleanse your body and maintain (or retain) good health. If you’re reading this, I hope your main takeaway is to practice a healthy lifestyle so that you can live longer, live healthier, and live joyfully with a strong quality of life. At Hegg Health, we prioritize the health of our community and want to do our best to meet the needs of our community. If you’d like to set up a doctor’s appointment to check on your overall health, you may call 712-476-8100. Interested in some diet and obesity information? You may call Jennifer Lincecum at 712-476-8202, or diabetic education at 712-476-8065. Interested in getting a good exercise plan and getting in shape? Call me at 712-476-8081, or email me at Jordyn.kleinwolterink@hegghc.org. We’d love to help you!

By Jordyn Kleinwolterink

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