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Weight Control

Health Risks Skyrocket Among the Overweight


It is no secret obesity can lead to serious health problems at home, as well as at work. With this increasing problem in mind, California-based organizations have taken a step toward educating the public about obesity and the serious diseases to which it has been linked.

Obesity, defined as an individual being significantly overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, is a condition linked to higher incidence of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and osteoarthritis of the knee and hip.

One of the most disturbing findings of a recent survey of Californians, commissioned by the American Heart Association's Western States Affiliate, the American Diabetes Association's Western Region and the Northeast California Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation, indicate 73 percent of adult Californians would not change their diet, or would change only some of the foods they ate, even if they learned a diet high in fat could lead to heart disease, osteoarthritis and diabetes.

"This resistance to changes in dietary habits is very dangerous, because obesity is not only costly in terms of the toll it takes on Californian lives, it is costing the state millions," said Assemblywoman Susan Davis (D-Calif.). "In 1998, Medi-Cal paid more than $322 million for medications to treat Californians with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis. By treating obesity, which is a leading contributor to all of these diseases, we would potentially save millions."

The survey findings also indicated 45 percent of respondents considered themselves overweight or obese. Further, 57 percent of respondents who exercise less than three times a week say it's because they can't find the time or they are too busy with work, the survey found.

The following fact sheet is issued by the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the Arthritis Foundation and the California Broadcasters Association:

  • Almost half of all breast cancer cases are diagnosed among obese women, and an estimated 42 percent of colon cancer cases are diagnosed among obese individuals.
  • Annually, 300,000 deaths are attributable to poor diet and inactivity.
  • Obesity more than doubles one's chances of developing high blood pressure.
  • An individual who is 40 percent overweight is twice as likely to die prematurely than an average-weight person.
  • A modest weight loss of 10 pounds to 20 pounds can bring significant health improvements, such as lowering one's blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • An estimated 45 million Americans diet every year, paying an estimated $33 billion on weight-reduction products and services.

© 2001 Health Resources Publishing