When it comes to major health concerns affecting Americans, you may be thinking that diseases like heart disease, diabetes or cancer are near the top of the list – and you wouldn’t be wrong. But the underlying cause of many major health problems in the U.S. is associated with obesity.
Obesity is a factor in serious health issues such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer, as well as many other health conditions and diseases. It is also associated with reduced quality of life and poorer mental health outcomes.
Rates of obesity in the U.S. have been rising rapidly over the past few decades, according to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers predict that by 2030, nearly 1 in 2 adults will be obese (BMI over 30) and that 1 in 4 adults will be considered severely obese (BMI of 40 or higher). In 2017, nearly 40% of adults were considered obese and in 2000 that rate was just over 30%.
Some people find it easier than others to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity may be affected by genetics, health conditions, socioeconomic factors and cultural influences, but there are steps you can take to keep your weight in check. These include:
- Choose foods wisely. You don’t need to change what you eat overnight, but slowly start to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats and less processed and sugary foods.
- Move more. It makes sense that the more physically active you are, the more calories you burn. But even if you are not ready to commit to a regular workout, find ways to move more throughout the day. Stand instead of sitting. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get up from your desk or couch every hour to move for a few minutes.
- Be realistic. The best way to maintain a healthy weight over the long term is to make small sustainable changes you can live with. Don’t go on a diet, severely restrict food groups or set unrealistic workout expectations. Instead, make one or two small changes at a time, such as drinking water with meals instead of soda or taking a walk after dinner. Then as you feel comfortable with your new habits, focus on making other small healthy changes.
Date Last Reviewed: February 14, 2020
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD