Friday, October 17, 2014

How Weight Loss Aids in Disease Prevention and Management

Guest Post: How Weight Loss Aids in Disease Prevention and Management

Weight loss is one of the most common health concerns in the United States. While many efforts have been made to educate the public about the dangers of obesity, many Americans of all ages are still overweight. Increased calorie consumption combined with a sedentary (sit-down) lifestyle are among the biggest factors. We all want to reach our ideal weight so we can look good and feel good. 

The problem is that many people focus more on the aesthetics of weight loss results, which can ultimately set them up for failure. It takes a great deal of work to lose weight, and looks should not be the sole focus. What can help, however, is learning how weight loss can help prevent and manage chronic diseases. This type of motivation can help you learn to make healthy choices on a regular basis that will help you manage your weight for life.

How Excess Weight Causes Disease

Being overweight causes more problems beyond being able to fit into your skinny jeans. Having excess weight over a long period of time puts a great deal of stress on the body. This includes your heart, bones, Among the most common types of weight-induced chronic illnesses include:
·         type 2 diabetes
·         heart disease
·         cancer (particularly of the breast, colon, gallbladder, and pancreas)
·         osteoarthritis
·         high blood pressure (hypertension)
·         high cholesterol
·         stroke

Obesity: Is it a Disease?

According to the American Heart Association, about 78 million American adults are considered obese. This means that such adults are ranked on the body mass index (BMI) chart of 30 or more. At this point, action and treatment are both necessary to produce weight loss effects. 

Part of the issue with obesity is that it many people perceive it as a body condition, rather than a disease. Health experts are looking to change this perception so that issues of being overweight are taken more seriously. In fact, the American Heart Association classifies obesity as its own disease. This is due to the fact that having an excessive amount of body fat produces health issues, including heart disease.

It’s important to have a doctor that takes your weight loss goals seriously. If you fall within the range of obesity, losing weight can prevent the onset of related chronic illnesses. You may also be treated for any other existing chronic diseases at the same time.

Losing Weight Leads to Better Health

Overweight and obesity increases the risk for disease and health complications, so it makes sense that losing weight can create the opposite effects. Being mindful of your weight early in life is essential to overall disease prevention. 

Once you have a chronic disease, it can be difficult to reverse it. However, this doesn’t mean weight loss won’t help. In fact, losing weight can actually make many diseases more manageable. 

Another aspect to consider are the features of weight loss—a nutritious diet and exercise ultimately make your body stronger, creating a disease-fighting powerhouse. By losing weight, you may decrease the following risk factors that aggravate and lead to chronic diseases. You might experience:
·         lower levels of insulin
·         less body inflammation (swelling)
·         lower levels of cancer-related hormones (such as estrogen)
·         increased ability to fight tumors
·         lower cholesterol and blood pressure
·         less painful joints
·         better ability to sleep through the night

Deciding How Much Weight to Lose

While embarking on a weight loss plan, you will likely run into the term “ideal weight.” An ideal weight is one which is best for you and your body type, so this number will vary greatly between adults. Determining the right amount of weight to lose is something you should establish early on with your doctor. 

A large goal can be disheartening because you want to reap the benefits of a low body mass right away. Before you get discouraged, it’s important to know that even a small amount may help. In fact, the Obesity Action Coalition reports that just a 5 to 10-percent weight loss can reap numerous health benefits, even for adults with chronic illnesses. Such a seemingly small percentage can immediately lower:
·         blood pressure
·         cholesterol
·         inflammation
·         insulin resistance

The key to losing weight for your health is to simply get going. It may be a struggle in the beginning, but losing even a small amount of weight will translate to significant benefits for your overall health. 

Resources

·        Obesity and Cancer Risk. (2012, January 3). Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/obesity
·        Pietrzykowska, Nadia B. (2014). Benefits of 5-10 Percent Weight Loss. Retrieved from http://www.obesityaction.org/educational-resources/resource-articles-2/general-articles/benefits-of-5-10-percent-weight-loss
·        Weight Loss for Life. (2009, January). Retrieved from http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/PDFs/WeightLossforLife_04.pdf 

Author Bio: Kristeen Cherney is a freelance health and lifestyle writer who also has a certificate in nutrition. Her work has been published on numerous health-related websites. Previously, she worked as a communications and marketing professional. Kristeen holds a BA in Communication from Florida Gulf Coast University, and is currently pursuing an MA in English with a concentration in rhetoric and cultural studies. When she's not writing or studying, she enjoys walking, kick-boxing, yoga, and traveling.
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