Not being able to squeeze into your favorite jeans may be annoying, but that should be the least of your worries when you’re carrying around too many pounds. Excess body fat puts you at greater risk for a host of health problems including heart disease and diabetes.

The American Heart Association and WebMD explain that obesity leads to:

  • Higher LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Lower HDL “good” cholesterol
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Higher heart attack risk
  • Higher type 2 or induced diabetes risk

You can assess your weight-related risk on a Body-Mass Index Chart or with a Waist-to-Hip Ratio.

Generally, weight can be reduced and controlled by improving your diet and increasing your exercise. A good diet is one that reduces calorie consumption, yet is sustainable for you over the long run. A brisk, 10-minute walk, three times a day, five days a week will get your heart pumping and give your other muscles a work-out. Consult with your doctor as you plan your changes.

Weighing in on Your Future

Obesity is a serious issue. While those with oversize waistlines are directly impacted – their annual medical expenses run at least $1,400 above friends and family of normal girth – everyone pays a price.  Annually, medical expenditures related to obesity approach $147 billion, leading health economists to finger them as major causes for skyrocketing health costs.

Anyone can  develop heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea or diabetes, but obese people are at a higher risk for these and other diseases, and treatment can be more challenging and with less successful outcomes. For example, complications from diabetes, like foot ulcers and amputations, occur more often when the diabetic is also obese.

And, a peek into any classroom erases any lingering doubts about obesity’s pervasiveness. Children are considered obese when their weight is at least ten percent higher than what is recommended for height and body type. A Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report says that the rate of obesity in youngsters has more than doubled in the past 20 years. By the time they are teenagers, the prevalence triples. Worse yet, the problem usually persists into adulthood, bringing greater probability of chronic disease.

Who foots the bill for all of these health problems?

We all do. Because health insurance premiums are tied to the risk pool, obesity raises insurance rates for everyone, including LIUNA’s health and welfare funds. And half the cost of taxpayer-supported Medicare and Medicaid is due to obesity-related illnesses.

Everyone has a stake in controlling the nation’s weight.

[Janet Lubman Rathner]