Is your health at risk?

How is your health? You might answer this question with “good” if you are fortunate enough not to have any major health problems. However, you also might want to consider your weight before answering this question, since being overweight increases your health risks. In fact, did you know that being overweight and obesity can increase your risk for the following?

• High blood pressure

• High cholesterol and lipids

• Heart disease

• Stroke

• Type 2 diabetes

• Sleep apnea

• Osteoarthritis

• Liver and/or gallbladder disease

• Cancer

• Infertility

• Depression

• Irregular menses

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Over the past decade, obesity has become recognized as a national health threat and a major public health challenge.” A 2009 CDC survey estimated that 26.7 percent of the United States population was obese. This same survey broke it down further by state. How do you think Tennessee faired? Tennessee was above the national average at 32.3 percent. The volunteer state actually tied Alabama for the second-highest obesity rate in the country. Keep in mind that these are just the obesity statistics.

Look what happens when you combine the obesity statistics and the overweight statistics. The Weight-control Information Network (WIN) has done this and reports that 68 percent of American adults age 20 or older are estimated as being overweight or obese. Sixty-eight percent - that means that most Americans are at risk for health problems. When you look at the combined total, it really does sound like a national health threat.

Is your health at risk? To find out, you need to determine your body mass index (BMI). BMI is a measurement of height and weight that is associated with body fat. To calculate your own BMI, use this equation: BMI = body weight in kilograms/height in meters squared. For those who aren’t mathematically inclined, check with your doctor or use one of the handy BMI calculators available on the Internet, such as

Since being underweight puts you at risk for health problems as well, the ideal BMI for optimal health would be between 18.5 and 24.9. If your BMI is 25 or higher, you are among the estimated 68 percent of Americans who have a higher risk of developing health problems.

Although you may not be able to alter your genetic predisposition to certain health problems, you can decrease your risk of lifestyle-related health problems. Lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, have been shown to be effective at decreasing health risks. In fact, losing just 5-10 percent of your total body weight decreases the health risks that are associated with being overweight. If you are interested in decreasing your BMI through lifestyle change, contact the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center at 865-977-4673.

Barbie Haas is a registered nurse and certified diabetes educator for the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center.

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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