Defining Obesity

Written by Clinical Research Associates staff

Did you know that Tennessee is the 5th highest state in adult obesity rates? According to a report by Trust for America's Health (TFAH), 27.8 percent of adults in our state are obese. Last year, adult obesity rates rose in 31 states, including Tennessee. No state experienced a decrease. Ten of the 15 most obese states are in the South. Increasing rates of obesity raise concern because of the increased risk of many diseases and health conditions like hypertension, type II diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory problems, and some cancers.

How overweight do you have to be to be considered obese?

The definitions are based on your Body Mass Index which is a weight to height ratio. (See box below on Calculating Your BMI). A healthy weight for your height is a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9, and overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 to 29.9. If your BMI is at least 30 you are considered obese, and if your BMI is 40 or more you are morbidly obese.

How do you address the problem?

Obesity is basically an imbalance of food intake and physical activity. That's why patients are advised to focus on diet and exercise. The Center for Disease Control says that "no national data have shown an increase in calorie consumption of adults and no change in physical activity." Unfortunately, the TFAH's report found that 30.5 percent of Tennesseans do not engage in any physical activity.

Exercising regularly does not have to be a chore, and dieting does not mean placing unrealistic restrictions on yourself so that food is no longer enjoyable. Experts suggest focusing on the nutritional content of your diet as opposed to fad diets or crash dieting. For information on suggested diet and physical activity, consult the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Are diet and exercise alone the only options for losing weight?

If you are overweight or obese, then you may be a candidate for other options like prescription drugs or surgery. There are many weight loss drugs being currently studied; please visit our website or contact our office for more information