MOBILE, ALA. (WALA) - According to Dr. Cheryl Jeffries at Baptist Medical Group, a person who is obese has so much body fat, his or her health is in danger. Having too much body fat can lead to:
-Type 2 Diabetes
-High Blood Pressure
-Certain types of Cancer
Because of these risks, it's important to maintain a healthy weight, or lose weight if you need to. It's not easy to change eating and exercise habits, but you can do it if you make a plan and stick to it.
To find out if you're considered obese, you can calculate your body mass index, or BMI. BMI is a combination of your height and weight. If you have a BMI of 30 or higher, your weight is putting your health in danger.
You can use the interactive tool here to check your body mass index:
Dr. Jeffries says where you carry your body fat may be as important as how many extra pounds you have. People who carry too much fat around their middle, rather than the hips, are more likely to have health problems. In women, a waist size of 35 in. (88.9 cm) or more raises the chance for disease. In men, a waist size of 40 in, (101.6 cm) or more raises the chance for disease.
Simply put, we gain weight when we consume more calories than we burn off. The things we eat, activity level, and other environmental factors affect how our body uses calories and how easily we gain weight. Dr. Jeffries says if you have family members who are are obese, you may have inherited a tendency to gain weight.
Also, our busy lifestyles make it harder to plan and cook healthy meals. For many of us, it's easier to reach for prepared foods, go out to eat, or go through a drive-through, but these foods are often high in fat and calories, and portions are often too large. Busy lifestyles also cut into the time we have for physical activity. But there is no quick fix to being overweight. To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you take in.
Dr. Jeffries says focus on health, not diets. Diets are hard to maintain and usually do not work in the long run, and it's tough to stick with a diet that includes lots of big changes in your eating habits. She says focus on lifestyle changes that will improve your health and help you achieve the right balance of energy and calories.
Remember every little bit helps. Losing just a few pounds can make a difference in your health. Dr, Jeffries suggests you work with your doctor to develop a weight-loss plan that will work for you. Ask family members and friends to help you stick to your plan. Ask your doctor to recommend a dietitian to help you with meal planning. If you stray from your plan, don't get upset. Figure out what got you off track and how you can fix it.
Dr. Jeffries says it's hard to change habits so you have to be ready. Most people have more success when they make small changes. For example, you might eat an extra piece of fruit, walk 10 minutes more, or add more vegetables to your meals.
Studies show that people who keep track of what they eat are better at losing weight. Keep a notebook where you write down everything you eat and drink each day. You may be surprised to see how much you are eating. Use a calorie counter to add up your calories.
As you keep track of calories, look at whether you skip meals, when you eat, how often you eat out, and how many fruits and vegetables you eat. This will help you see patterns that you may want to change. You may want to write down the amount of physical activity you've had each day and compare the calories you burned to those you took in.
If you're not seeing results with diet and exercise, surgery or medication may be an option. Dr. Jeffries says keep in mind, they will not work by themselves. Before your doctor will prescribe medicines or surgery, he or she will probably want you to work on diet and activity for at least six months. Even if your doctor gives you medicines or recommends surgery, you will need to stick with your new healthy habits for the rest of your life.
For more information, please visit the Baptist Health Care website at http://www.ebaptisthealthcare.org/Bariatrics/patientresources/default.aspx?contentid=101414. You can learn more about Dr. Cheryl Jeffries at http://www.baptistmedicalgroup.org/doctors/cheryl-jeffries-md.
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