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Obesity: Risks and benefits

Obesity: Risks and benefits

Keeping a sound perspective

In 2004, at the height of official obesity hysteria, it was announced that obesity causes 400,000 deaths each year in the U.S. – rivaling deaths from smoking. The previous year, as the Iraq war began, with its concerns of terrorists and nuclear weapons, Surgeon General Richard Carmona declared that the threat from obesity is worse than the threat
from nuclear arms. But apparently, that number was too high for many scientists. It was time to ask some hard questions and expect honest answers.<MORE>

Risks and benefits of obesity
For U.S. adults, current research shows that associated risk linked to overweight and obesity is confined to the obese category (BMI of 30 and over) at its higher end. The overweight category shows no related risks at all and is, in fact, the weight group with the lowest risk of death. <MORE>

The key to health: Fitness, not weight
There is considerable evidence that physical inactivity plays the critical role in the development of both obesity and chronic disease. Inactivity and lack of fitness may be more closely related to health risks than is obesity. Scientists at the Cooper Institute in Dallas found that low cardiovascular fitness is the important independent
predictor of all-cause mortality for both men and women, regardless of weight, regardless of whether they are thin or large. <MORE>

Causes of obesity
An easy answer to the increasing prevalence of obesity is that our steepest population increases come in the very groups most vulnerable to obesity. More U.S. adults and children today than a generation ago come from racial and ethnic groups that have disproportionately high rates of obesity. During six periods in life, people are especially vulnerable to the development of obesity, as identified by the World Health Organization in 1998. <MORE>

Prevalence of overweight and obesity
In the United States, the prevalence of obesity increased sharply during the early 1980s and kept rising until about 2003-2004. Since then there has been a leveling off for both adults and children. Currently, 32 percent of adults are obese. The rate of extreme obesity (BMI of 40 or higher), in which associated health risks are highest, is 4.8 percent, with the highest rates at age 20-59. <MORE>

Myths and misconceptions in health care
Walking Many health professionals today have moved on to a healthy living diet-free approach of sound and compassionate care in dealing with weight issues. Unfortunately, however, others promote and provide care that is based on misinformation, myth and size bias, rather than accurate and up-to-date scientific information. Consider these five myths, misconceptions and controversies