Over 50 and fat

May 21, 2008

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on a nationwide survey conducted from 2001 to 2004, approximately 71 percent of Americans over 50 years old are either overweight or obese, as compared with 64 percent from the 1988-1994 survey.

Overweight refers to a person who has an excess of body weight and obesity means having a very high amount of body fat in relation to lean body mass. Health professionals use a measurement called body mass index (BMI) to classify an adult’s weight as healthy, overweight, or obese. BMI is based on height and weight.

The BMI ranges shown in the graph (Figure 1) are for adults. Even within the healthy BMI range, weight gains can carry health risks for adults.

Directions: Find your weight on the bottom of the graph. Go straight up from that point until you reach the line that matches your height. Then look to find your weight group.

Healthy Weight: BMI from 18.5 up to 25 refers to healthy weight.
Overweight: BMI from 25 up to 30 refers to overweight.
Obese: BMI 30 or higher refers to obesity.

Successful ‘Losers’ How Do They Do It?

Although experts may have different theories on how and why people become overweight, they generally agree that the key to losing weight is a simple message: Eat less and increase your physical activity. According to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it is recommended that adults engage in approximately 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity on most days of the week. These are the keys to manage body weight. Your body needs to burn more calories than you take in.

Before starting any exercise program, talk with your healthcare professional.

Successful weight losers usually do the following:

eat a low-calorie, low-fat diet
eat smaller portions
eat breakfast
drink water instead of sugary drinks
monitor themselves by weighing in frequently
be physically active

The typical pattern for the average overweight person who is trying to diet is to eat little or no breakfast and a light lunch. As the day progresses, they get hungry and eat most of their calories late in the day. Successful weight losers have managed to change this pattern.

Effects of Being Overweight or Obese

Obesity is often classified as a disease. NHLBI describes it as a complex chronic disease involving social, behavioral, cultural, physiological, metabolic, and genetic factors. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions, including the following:

Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
High total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides
Type 2 diabetes
Coronary heart disease
Gallbladder disease
Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)

Tips for Eating Out

-Before you order, ask for nutrition information or information on calories, saturated fat, and sodium, when available.
-Choose foods that are steamed, broiled, baked, roasted, poached, or stir-fried, but not deep-fat fried.
-Share food, such as a main dish or dessert, with your dining partner.
-Take part of the food home with you and refrigerate immediately. You may want to ask for a take-home container when the meal arrives. Spoon half the meal into it, so you are more likely to eat only what’s left on your plate.
-Request your meal to be served without gravy, sauces, butter or margarine.
-Ask for salad dressing on the side, and use only small amounts of full-fat dressings.

Set a Goal

The first step to weight loss is setting a realistic goal. By using a BMI chart and talking with your healthcare professional, you can determine what a healthy weight is for you.

Studies show that you can improve your health with just a small amount of weight loss. Physical activity in combination with reduced calorie consumption can lead to a 5 to 10 percent weight loss. Even modest weight loss can improve blood pressure and help control diabetes and high cholesterol in overweight or obese adults.


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