Obesity Information and Treatment
Facts About Obesity: Excess Body Fat, Body Mass Index

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Obesity Information and Treatment

Overweight (excess weight) and obesity (excess body fat) are commonly assessed by reference to the Body Mass Index, which measures the relationship between height and weight. Although the Body Mass Index has drawbacks (eg. it doesn't measure body fat), it is a useful guide to weight-related health risks.

To Calculate Body Mass Index

- Simply divide your weight (pounds) by your height (inches) squared.
- Multiply the result by 705.

For example, if you weigh 160 pounds with a height of 5 feet 4 inches (64 inches), the body mass index formula runs:

Step 1. (160) divided by (64 x 64 = 4096) = 0.039
Step 2. 0.039 x 705 = 27.4
Result: Your body mass index is 27.4 (overweight).

Normal Weight, Overweight or Obesity

  • Normal weight means having a body mass index of 19-24.99
  • Overweight means having a body mass index of 25-29.99
  • Obesity means having a body mass index of 30+

Facts About Overweight

  • Less than half of U.S. adults have a healthy weight.[9]
  • Almost two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight. [8]
  • All adults (20+ years old): 129.6 million (64.5 percent)
    Women (20+ years old): 64.5 million (61.9 percent)
    Men (20+ years old): 65.1 million (67.2 percent)

Facts About Obesity

  • Nearly one-third of U.S. adults are obese (BMI > 30).[8]
  • All adults (20+ years old): 61.3 million (30.5 percent)
    Women (20+ years old): 34.7 million (33.4 percent)
    Men (20+ years old): 26.6 million (27.5 percent)

Overweight and Obesity Trends

  • The prevalence of overweight and obesity in adults has steadily increased over the years among both genders, all ages, all racial/ethnic groups, all educational levels, and all smoking levels.10
  • From 1960 to 2000, the prevalence of overweight (BMI > 25 to < 30) increased from 31.5 to 33.6 percent in U.S. adults aged 20 to 74.[9]
  • The prevalence of obesity (BMI > 30) during this same time period more than doubled from 13.3 to 30.9 percent, with most of this rise occurring in the past 20 years.8
  • From 1988 to 2000, the prevalence of extreme obesity (BMI > 40) increased from 2.9 to 4.7 percent, up from 0.8 percent in 1960.3,8
  • The prevalence of overweight and obesity generally increases with advancing age, then starts to decline among people over 60.[3]

Obesity Treatment

Conventional Diet Approach
Treating obesity or severe overweight involves a combination of diet and exercise, together with lifestyle counseling and weight loss support groups. Healthy calorie-controlled weight loss plans such as ediets, Jenny Craig, or Weight Watchers may help. Or visit your local dietitian. Whatever type of weight-reducing plan you choose, always consult your personal doctor before starting.

Obesity Drug Treatment
The FDA has approved two types of weight loss pills for long term treatment of obesity: orlistat (Xenical) or sibutramine (Meridia). Orlistat works by blocking fat-absorption in the digestive tract. Sibutramine works in the brain to suppress appetite.

Weight Loss Surgery to Reduce Morbid Obesity
Gastrointestinal surgery is another approach to the treatment of severe clinical obesity. Gastric banding (eg. lap-band) and gastric bypass (eg. biliopancreatic diversion or roux-en-Y) are the two main types of obesity surgery. For more information, visit: ObesityHelp or Bariatric Surgery.

Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Kuczmarski RJ, Johnson CL. Overweight and obesity in the United States: Prevalence and trends, 1960–1994. International Journal of Obesity. 1998;22:39–47.

Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Ogden CL, Johnson CL. Prevalence and trends in obesity among US adults, 1999-2000. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2002;288:1723-1727.

Pastor PN, Makuc DM, Reuben C, Xia H. Chartbook on Trends in the Health of Americans. Health, United States, 2002. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2002.

Mokdad AH, Ford ES, Bowman BA, Dietz WH, Vinicor F, Bales VS, Marks JS. Prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and obesity-related health risk factors, 2001. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2003;289(1):76-79.

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