Obesity and GenderFrom
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Obesity knows no gender...
In the U.S., an estimated 60 percent of all adults are overweight, and 20
percent are obese or 100 pounds over their ideal body weight. More women are
obese, but more men are overweight. Overweight and obese people are more at
risk for many chronic and devastating diseases.
The No. 1
killer of Americans is heart disease, an affliction closely related to obesity.
There is also a strong relationship between being overweight and suffering from
hypertension, arthritis, and most importantly, diabetes type 2. Obesity figures
prominently in the development of gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and asthma,
According to The American Cancer Society, evidence
suggests that obesity increases the risk for developing breast, colorectal and
prostate cancer. In addition, the risk for gallbladder, kidney and endometrial
cancer is increased. Obese men are 30 to 40 percent more likely to die of
cancer than normal weight men are. Obesity also makes cancer tumors more
difficult to detect and diagnose.
Overweight and obese
people may develop an aversion to exercise. Its more difficult to move so
over time, the excess weight takes a toll on knees and hips. Joint and muscle
problems develop and are aggravated by obesity. Arthritis is often a result. A
vicious cycle of inactivity, weight gain, obesity, decreased activity, and more
weight gain is set in perpetual motion. Studies show that almost 25 percent of
the population never exercises! At least half of us dont get the minimum
recommended and only 20 percent actually get enough activity to
Your Weight is Just a Number on the
I always say that your weight is just a
number on the scale. What you weigh is not necessarily the deciding issue when
evaluating your health and risks for disease. You may be muscular! Muscle is a
denser tissue and weighs more by volume than fat. A muscular body is a heavier
body, without the risk factors associated with obesity. However, if you are
above the upper range of weight for height (BMI) and you do have health
problems associated with obesity, you need to revaluate your physique and
perhaps create some goals.
Know Your Numbers
Pay attention to your numbers. Men should
get a physical and establish their blood lipid levels as a baseline. Its
important to determine your levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and make
sure your blood pressure is within a normal range. High blood lipids may be a
sign of increased risk for a heart attack. High blood pressure increases risk
Diet is not the only factor in high
cholesterol. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, stress and activity influence
your weight and your cholesterol. Uncontrollable factors such as genetics,
gender and age factor in too. Ideally, you want total cholesterol below 200
milligrams/deciliter (mg/dl), LDL below 100, and HDL or "healthy" cholesterol
over 40. If your total cholesterol is above 240, expect that your risk for
heart disease has doubled.
The Bad News: Anatomy is
For men, its important to pay
attention to where the fat accumulates. Men tend to garner weight around their
abdomen, while women store it in their hips and thighs. Research has shown that
apple-shaped men and women have an increased risk of developing obesity-related
More women than men perceive themselves
as overweight, regardless of their actual weight. More women obsess about their
weight and more women are on diets than are men, which may or may not be a good
thing! At any time, 45 percent of women and 25 percent of men are trying to
lose weight. A recent study published in the February edition of the Mayo
Clinic Proceedings revealed that almost 66 percent of men and 48 percent of
woman said they were overweight.
However, 73 percent of
the men and 85 percent of the women were currently trying to lose weight or
avoid gaining more weight. Whats important is that only a fraction of
these overweight men and women are doing anything constructive to reach these
goals. Only 1/3 of these men and 1/5 of the women are exercising or changing
what they eat!
Its not easy to be thin in America!
Our workload has increased so that now we spend more time working than any
other society. Weve moved from an agrarian society to an urban one, and
with the hours spent working sedentary comes an increase in body weight. On
average, Americans weigh 8 pounds more than they did 10 years ago, obesity has
increased over 50 percent since 1980, we eat at least 6 percent more calories
than we did 20 years ago, and we dont burn them off!
Americans dine out on average at least five times a week.
Some eat away from home every day... and more than once!
Portion size counts. A recent study in the American Journal of Public
Health shows that fast food portions are two to five times larger than their
original sizes. Fast food is cheap and restaurants make you offers that you
cannot refuse. For a few cents more, you can "super size" everything. This
trend started 30 years ago with frozen entrées. Manufacturers
complimented men by telling them that they needed "manly" portions... a real
man needs real calories. The reality is that accompanying the increase in
portion size is the increase in obesity.
Men tend to shop
and cook less often than women do. Men tend to eat take-out food more often and
have less control over what theyre actually eating!
For Some Good News!
Thats the BAD news! The good news is
that men may have it easier than women may when it comes to losing weight.
Physiologically, muscle is more metabolically active than fat. Men, who are
more muscular than women, are generally able to lose weight more easily and
consistently. Men are very goal-oriented and may treat a weight loss program as
a project with a timeline and end objective.
complain that if they begin a weight loss program at the same time as their
significant other, the other always loses weight more quickly and consistently.
It may be because the man's physique is more muscular which makes his body
burns calories quicker. Or maybe it is because men are determined to achieve
the goal and do not deviate from their program as much.
Strategies for Success
The best strategy is committing to a healthy
lifestyle, without focusing on eliminating any one food. Small changes will
bring large rewards! Perhaps just eating out less often or choosing different
foods can make the difference.
Make some changes! Prioritize your
health. Diet and lifestyle can directly affect your risk for heart disease and
prostate cancer. You can control your risk when you control what you eat and
how much you exercise. Prostate cancer is the second leading type of cancer in
men. In 2001, new prostate cancer cases totaled 198,100 (about one new case
every three minutes). Diet can improve that risk factor. A low-fat, high-fiber
diet and regular exercise can slow prostate cancer cell growth by up to 30
percent, according to a new study by researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer
Center and UCLA's Department of Physiological Science.
kills more Americans than any other condition, and diet is a contributing
factor. Eat a healthy diet, keep your weight within a healthy range for your
height and body type, kick the cigarettes and cigars, and drink moderately.
These key factors will help you avoid heart disease and certain cancers. Youll
Did You Know?
There is a relationship between stomach cancer
and eating many preserved foods. The rate of stomach cancer in American has
dropped considerably from the 1930s because were eating less smoked, pickled,
salted and cured foods, especially meats. You may want to avoid hot dogs,
bacon, ham and pickled vegetables. Instead, enjoy fresh foods and stay
eDiets Director of Nutrition
Services Susan L. Burke, M.S., R.D., L.D., CDE is a Registered and Licensed
Dietitian, and a Certified Diabetes Educator who specializes in both general
and diabetes-related weight management. .