Tag Archives: obesity

Health Risks from Being Overweight

Obese teen walkingThere are many health issues that can result from being overweight. In fact, you do not have to be obese to suffer from a weight-related illness.  We have already talked about BMI as an indicator of general health. Please, be aware that when your BMI reaches 25, you are at risk.

Another fact to keep in mind is that heart problems and diabetes often go hand-in-hand. If you have one of these as a result of obesity, you will probably have the other.

Below is a list of health conditions that are often related to being overweight:

  • Cancer – Breast, other female cancers, and colon cancer are more prevalent in overweight and obese people.
  • Diabetes — Type 2 diabetes is almost always related to weight issues.
  • Gallbladder Disease – Individuals who have their gallbladders removed are often overweight.
  • Gynecological Issues – Overweight women have a higher incidence of fertility problems, menstrual problems, and cancer than women of normal weight.
  • Heart Disease is the #1  killer in the U.S. Even though it can strike anyone at any age, it is usually found in overweight and obese people. With a BMI of 25+ individuals increase the probability of contracting an obesity-related heart disease by 50%.
  • High Blood Pressure – The ever-increasing problem of  obesity is being recognized as one of the most important risk factors for the development of high blood pressure. It is twice as prevalent in obese people than in people of normal weight and is a major risk factor for developing heart disease, the primary cause of death among Americans older than 25. Losing weight will lower the blood pressure and lessen the risk of heart disease.
  • High Triglycerides – If your BMI is 30+, there is a greater probability that you will have elevated levels of triglycerides, which transport fat through your body. High triglycerides increase the risk for heart disease.
  • Liver Disease – This is far too common in the Western world – even among children; but more frequent in obese people.  There are few symptoms until it is too late. It is irreversible and deadly.
  • Osteoarthritis – Even being slightly overweight can create stress on the joints and result in this disease, which is degeneration of the cartilage in the joints of the body.  There is no cure, so prevention is critical and can only be done by maintaining a normal weight.
  • Respiratory Problems – Being overweight or obese can result in sleep apnea – a condition which causes the person to stop breathing multiple times throughout the night. It causes snoring, painful joints, fatigue, generally feeling bad, and increases the risk of heart attack. It can often be corrected through weight loss.
  • Stroke – Excess weight puts stress on the entire circulatory system and can increase the risk for stroke – a blood clot that blocks an artery and interrupts blood flow to the brain, which can be deadly.  Eighty percent of strokes can be prevented with weight loss, exercise, and a healthy diet.

The key is to watch your weight. If you find it creeping up, check you BMI regularly.  If it reaches 25, your health risks begin to increase.  By keeping your BMI below 25, you are significantly reducing your chances of developing any of the diseases listed above.  For some problems, such as Type 2 Diabetes, you may be able to reverse the illness.

A healthy diet of more fresh fruits and vegetables, elimination of sugar and fatty foods, plus  regular exercise will produce remarkable results. Start protecting and improving your health today.

Photo Credit: Morbidly Obese Teen via photopin (license)

Are You Overweight or Obese?

Weight Loss Plateau
Image by Kris Robinson

Many people are a lot closer to being medically obese that they care to admit. There is a misconception that you have to be 100 lbs or more overweight to be considered obese. The reality is that you can be obese and at risk for all the health problems associated with obesity with only 40 pounds excess weight. Where do you fit? Are you overweight or obese? Read on . . .

Obesity is determined by your BMI (Body Mass Index), which is the measure of body fat based on height and weight.  This measurement is not infallible, but it gives a fairly accurate measure of your body’s fat composition.  For adults 20 years plus, BMI is interpreted using standard weight status categories. The categories are the same for men and women of all body types and ages.

First take a look at what your ideal weight should be:  Rush University Medical Center, “How Much Should I Weigh?

Let’s use a woman at 5 foot 5 inches for our example.

Chart shows: Height – Normal Weight – Overweight – Obese Weight
5ft5in woman weight

Then, take a look at this BMI Chart (which corresponds with the weight categories shown):

BMI              Health Status
Below 18.5    Underweight
18.5 – 24.9    Normal
25.0-29.9      Over weight
30.0 and Above    Obese

According to this chart a 5 foot 5 inch woman who is 140 lbs is within a normal BMI range, with a BMI of 23.3. So, how much weight does she have to gain to be 30.0 or above? Surprisingly, only 40 lbs! At 180 lbs, the 5’ 5” female, will have a calculated BMI of 30.0.  That is very disturbing when you think about it. How many women do you know who are carrying 40+ extra pounds? I know quite a few (men as well).

There are different levels of obesity. When a woman has a BMI of 40 or greater, she is classified morbidly obese, which affects 1 in 20 people. Morbid obesity is rapidly overtaking smoking as the second leading cause of preventable death.

Our 5’5” woman would have to gain almost 100 lbs to be morbidly obese; but, she will be in danger of many illnesses associated with obesity such as heart disease, diabetes, and stroke long before she reaches that point.

By the time a woman gets to the level of morbid obesity, it is very likely that she already has one or more serious health conditions. Unfortunately, without drastic intervention most morbidly obese people do not lose weight and keep it off.

I am not saying that it is impossible; but, statistically, it is unlikely. Sadly, when people prove the statistics to be valid and remain morbidly obese, they cannot live a long and happy life. They usually die younger than they should from a whole range of painful and deadly diseases.

Surgery is an alternative and for some may be the answer, though a dangerous one. The truth is you that it is not the only alternative.

While statistics show the obese person as unlikely to lose weight and keep it off, it is possible stick to a diet that meets nutritional needs, caloric needs, and adequate mobility so that the individual has a real chance for a long, healthy life.

With discipline and absolute commitment to a whole foods healthy diet (rich in veggies and fruits, low in processed GMO (genetically modified organisms), elimination of refined sugar and white flour, and low in processed/fast foods) it is possible to experience a slow and healthy weight loss, plus improved health.

However, it is not just the diet that has to be changed – it has to be an entire lifestyle change. Weight loss is not a race or quick fix in spite of the diet industry and reality TV’s portrayal of weight loss. The most effective way to permanent weight loss is through a lifetime change in what and how you eat, plus exercise and plenty of rest.

Even if you do resort to surgery, you will still have to make a huge change in what you eat. Making those same changes without surgery would bring about the same result – it would just take a little longer and be much safer.

If you are in the overweight category and have not yet reached the extreme danger zone of obesity, you may want to change your lifestyle now, to prevent the problem from escalating.

Eat Well – Live Well – Be Happy

Calculate Your BMI


BMI (Body Mass Index)is a calculation based on height and weight that is used to determine a person’s health risks due to the amount of body fat they are carrying. It is a preferred first step used by doctors because it is non-invasive and costs nothing. Based on BMI, a doctor can make decisions on whether or not to do more tests.

There are a few situations for which BMI is not a good indicator of overall health. For example: Body builders may have a high BMI but not actually be overweight or carrying excess fat. They just have higher muscle mass than the average person. But, generally speaking, BMI is a good measurement for determining general good health (or the lack thereof.)

BMI is very easy to calculate. Fill in the blanks for the formula:

(Weight pounds / Height inches²) 703

Translation:  Weight in pounds, divided by height in inches squared, times 703.

An example for a 160 lbs, 5 foot 9 inch tall person:
(160/4761) = 0.0336063 x 703 = 23.62 (round up to 24)

According to the chart below, this person is at the high end of the normal weight range, and should be watching his/her weight.

BMI               Health Status
Below 18.5     Underweight
18.5 – 24.9     Normal
25.0 – 29.9    Overweight
30.0 and above     Obese

This chart applies to all adults, both men and women – 20 years old or older. This creates a slight discrepancy because men typically have more muscle than women and women carry more fat than men. But, it is a good start to determine if your weight is within a healthy range, or not.

If you really dislike math, there are BMI calculators online that you can use. One that I recommend is offered by the NIH ( National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute), click here: BMI Calculator It is very easy to use.

There are other charts and calculators for children and teenagers that factor in age and sex – provided by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website.

The most important reason to track your BMI is to help you stay within a healthy weight range. If you are – great! If not, it is time to do is to do whatever you need to do to get your weight where it should be. Unhealthy weight (under or over) is not good. There are many risks associated with both that should be addressed.

Let’s look at the same person above who is at the high end of the normal range – edging toward the overweight category. Let’s  increase  his/her weight by 40 pounds to 200. He now falls into the obese category with a BMI of 30.0, which puts him at risk for health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and more. Don’t let this happen to you!

Go Sugar Free for a Healthy Mind and Body

Image by andreasberheide

Eating well is becoming more and more popular. Finally people are beginning to realize that the secret to longevity is a healthy diet.

In order to ensure the body has  the nutrients it needs to function effectively – to produce energy to live and work, and to build and sustain a healthy body you should go sugar free in your eating habits.

Eliminating sugar from your diet may sound like pure torture – especially if sugar is a primary component of your diet. You may feel you cannot live without it. The problem is that you may not be able to live a long life if you continue with your sugar addiction. Numerous studies show that it increases your risk for obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Sugar and the Body

Sugar (aka sucrose), as we know it, is heavily refined from sugar cane or sugar beets. The dark part of the raw sugar (molasses) and sugar alcohols are extracted to produce the white crystals that we know and love.

There are other common sugars that are made from the basic refined sugar: Confectioner’s Sugar (Powdered Sugar) used most frequently for desserts and frostings – and sanding sugar that is used plain or colored for sprinkling on desserts. The third one is brown sugar, which some people believe is better than white sugar, but it is nothing more than refined white sugar with a little molasses added back for coloring.

There are other types of brown sugars on the market that may be refined, partially refined, or unrefined. These are typically labeled raw sugars, natural brown sugars, or whole cane sugars. They all contain some molasses, hence the brown color.

Processed Sugar Has No Nutritional Value

Image by Flynt
Image by Flynt

White refined sugar (sucrose) is no longer used in processed foods. It has been replaced by the much less expensive high-fructose corn syrup. Unfortunately, the change makes no difference from a health perspective – they are both bad. The bottom line is that refined sugar in any form is still sugar – empty calories with no nutritional value.

The average person eats more than 22 grams of sugar each day (5½ teaspoons). If you are among those that are continually drinking energy drinks (Red Bull, Monster), Big Gulps (and other sodas), sweetened tea or coffee, you will take in even more sugar. One 12-oz can of coke contains 39 grams (10 teaspoons) of sugar (high-fructose corn syrup).

To make matters worse, you are probably ingesting even more sugar from foods you think are healthy. For example: instant oatmeal packages, yoghurt, sports drinks, low-fat products, frozen dinners, etc. are typically loaded with sugar. Some of the more popular brands of yoghurt have over 45 grams of sugar in each 8-ounce serving.

Be very careful of foods labeled “healthy.” Most food manufacturers use the term to increase sales. It is not about offering foods that are actually good for your health.

The only way you can combat this problem is to educate yourself about what is healthy (or not) and learn to read labels. Be very selective in your purchases.

Excessive Sugar in Your Diet Leads to. . .


When you daily diet consists of packaged fruit juice, sodas, energy drinks, sweet snacks, yoghurt, and fast foods – or pre-packaged dinners, you are on the fast track to obesity. Studies show that children get most of their liquids from sweetened drinks – not water. The hidden sugars in all of these foods, plus the empty calories (no nutrients) that quickly turn to fat are contributing to the obesity epidemic in America. In addition to obesity, this type of diet puts you and your children at risk for all kinds of serious illnesses such as diabetes, heart and lung disease, and cancer.

Heart Disease

According to JAMA Internal Medicine (February 2014), a sugar-laden diet may raise your risk of dying of heart disease even if you are not overweight.

Sugar Hangovers

Chances are you have gone on a sugar binge more than once in your life. If so, you have probably had a “sugar hangover” and experienced one, or all, of the following: sick to your stomach, headache, gas, bloating, brain fog, mood swings, joint pain and depression.

When you add sugar to alcohol (sweet, alcoholic mixed drinks) you will have a much worse hangover than you will have from straight booze (vodka, whiskey, etc.) Why? You are filling your blood stream with two deadly ingredients, whiskey and sugar. There are volumes written about the dangers of alcohol. You should also take into consideration the effect sugar has on your brain, liver, and kidneys, as well.

High Cholesterol Levels

Sugar is processed as energy. When you eat more calories than your body needs for energy, the excess calories are stored as fat. Since sugar is loaded with calories, if you eat a lot of it, there is a good chance you will start putting on the pounds from stored fat.

It takes a 180-pound man ½ hour of fast cycling to burn off 375 calories. It takes the same amount of work you to burn off a king-size Kit Kat bar. Excess fat in our body can raise your cholesterol levels, which puts you at greater risk for heart problems.

Acidic Saliva and Tooth Decay

Consuming excess amounts of sugar will result in acidic saliva, which eat away at your tooth enamel and cause tooth decay and gum disease if not treated properly. If you have acidic saliva, it is critical that you replace soft drinks and coffee with water, and reduce your overall intake of sweets.

Liver Damage

Excess sugar stored as fat can cause a condition called “steatohepatitis,” a silent, fairly common and dangerous liver disease.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,

….steatohepatitis or NASH …. resembles alcoholic liver disease, but occurs in people who drink little or no alcohol. The major feature is fat in the liver, along with inflammation and damage. Most people with NASH feel well and are not aware that they have a liver problem. Nevertheless, NASH can be severe and can lead to cirrhosis, in which the liver is permanently damaged and scarred and no longer able to work properly……[it is] becoming more common, possibly because of the greater number of Americans with obesity. In the past 10 years, the rate of obesity has doubled in adults and tripled in children.”

Increased Cancer Risk

MD Anderson Cancer Center at The University of Texas says that sugar does not necessarily lead to cancer, but they suggest that eating too much sugar can lead to weight issues, which can put you at a higher risk for cancer and other diseases.

To Summarize . . .

A regular diet that includes large quantities of processed sugar is very bad for your body. It not only endangers your health, it will also take a toll on your appearance. The bottom line is that you will be much better off without it.

Reasons to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

People crave sugar for a number of reasons: it gives you a rush of energy, it can be a mood changer (makes you feel better, for a minute or two), it is a comfort food, and finally, it may be an addiction.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average American consumes anywhere between 150 to 170 pounds of refined sugars in one year. [That is between 30 and 35 five-pound bags of sugar.]

Elyse Powell, Royster Fellow at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, states,

Even more alarming is the fact that the top 20% of adult consumers are eating 721 calories from added sugar per day, on average. This is equally alarming for the top 20% of children who are consuming on average 673 calories from added sugar per day.”

If you consume large quantities of sugar, it is very possible that you are dealing with an addiction without even realizing it. Even though the sweets may be delicious and completely enjoyable when you are consuming them, the horrific downside is that excessive sugar consumption can cause life-threatening illnesses.

Let’s look at some of the BIG ones!


ObesityIt is important to understand the difference between being overweight and being obese. You are overweight when you are carrying more pounds than is normal or healthy for your age, sex, height and build.

You are obese when you are carrying an excess amount of body fat. The accumulation of fat is usually under the skin, commonly in the abdomen, and affects some internal organs, such as the lungs, heart, and stomach.

You may be overweight, but you may or may not have excess accumulation of fat. Athletes and bodybuilders can be overweight but not obese.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest source of added sugars in the American diet. With that information comes a Word of Warning

Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health reports,

Rising consumption of sugary drinks has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. A typical 20-ounce soda contains 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar and upwards of 240 calories. A 64-ounce fountain cola drink could have up to 700 calories. People who drink this “liquid candy” do not feel as full as if they had eaten the same calories from solid food and do not compensate by eating less.”

The daily consumption of high calorie drinks, candy, sweet snack foods, and fast foods is incredibly dangerous. Eating large amounts of sugar leads to obesity (accumulated body fat) because the body cannot process all of the sugar into energy, so the excess is stored as fat. Obesity is becoming more of a threat to the nation’s population than tobacco especially among children, teens and young adults. It is also one of the leading causes of diabetes and heart disease.


New research indicates that sugar is one of the primary causes of metabolic cell changes in the body that are consistent with triggering and promoting cancer. This is being discounted by some healthcare professionals, but for me, just the possibility that it contributes to cancer is enough.

According to Mercola.com, studies in 21 countries throughout Europe, North America, plus Japan revealed that sugar intake is a strong risk factor contributing to higher breast cancer rates, particularly in older women.

Scientists led by Dr. Custodia Garcia-Jimenez at the University Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid have linked obesity and diabetes with cancer. They found that high sugar levels increase the activity of a gene widely implicated in cancer progression.


DiabetesEating too much sugar – especially sugary drinks – can put you at risk for Type 2 diabetes.  Drinking or eating foods that with high-sugar content, triggers an insulin release to process the sugar and carry it to the cells for energy. Forcing these insulin responses repeatedly through the day – every day, can result in insulin resistance. This means that your body will require more and more insulin to process the same amount of sugar. The end result is that your body will reach a point where it will not be able produce enough insulin to process the sugar effectively, thus causing diabetes.

Chronically high insulin levels in your bloodstream also increase your risk for other conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, acne and even myopia. Decreasing your intake of added sugar allows your body to process sugar more evenly, efficiently, and effectively.

Heart Disease

Heart DiseaseGetting too much sugar in your diet could significantly increase your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, according to an American Heart Association study published in January 2014.

In a another study published in Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine in January 2014, researchers found that the odds of dying from heart disease rose in tandem with the percentage of sugar in one’s diet, regardless of a person’s age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index (a measure of weight).

These are only two studies among many that show people who eat lots of sugar have higher cardiovascular mortality.

Is eating excessive amounts of sugar really worth your life?

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