OBESITY is conquering America, slowly spreading illness and sometimes death. Yale psychologist Kelly Brownell noted that obesity now beats smoking as a cause of disease and death.
With nearly one-third of the U.S. population obese -- an increase of 10 percent in the last decade -- public health officials have been sounding an alarm, since obesity carries an increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. And even more disturbing is the increased incidence of type 2 diabetes in children - which public health officials blame on the obesity epidemic in young adults.
Excess body weight may contribute to about 20% of all cancer deaths in women and 14% of all cancer deaths in men. This translates to at least 90,000 cancer deaths a year in the USA, according to the largest study ever done on the link between obesity and cancer.
The landmark study from the American Cancer Society, appearing in April 2003 New England Journal of Medicine, paints an even bleaker health picture than ever before for those who are overweight or obese. Experts have known for years that being overweight increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and other health problems.
About 65% of Americans, or more than 120 million, are overweight or obese. Obesity is defined as 30 or more pounds over a healthy body weight; overweight is roughly 10 to 30 pounds over a healthy weight.
Women are "dangerously unaware" of the threat of heart disease. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the biggest killer of women, but most consider cancer to be the greatest threat. More must be done to alert women to the dangers of heart disease, which killed more than four times the number killed by breast cancer.
Most people don't check the facts on McDonald's web site. A quarter-pounder with cheese has 530 calories and a super-sized order of fries has 610 calories - together well over half the 1,500 to 1,800 calories a day an adult woman needs.
"The biggest problem we face in America is not terrorism. The biggest health problem we're facing is obesity," Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told The Associated Press. Annually, 300,000 Americans die because of obesity. Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services, has chimed in with a request that all Americans - as their patriotic duty - lose 10 pounds.
One big reason for the current obesity epidemic in America could be a CLA deficiency. Diabetics who added an essential fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) to their diets had lower body mass as well as lower blood sugar levels by the end of the eight-week study found in the January 2003 issue of the Journal of Nutrition. Hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, is a hallmark of diabetes.
Researchers also found that higher levels of this fatty acid in the bloodstream meant lower levels of leptin, a hormone thought to regulate fat levels. Scientists think that high leptin levels may play a role in obesity, one of the biggest risk factors for adult-onset diabetes.
Can't seem to lose those stubborn pounds? You are not alone. If you are frustrated over the results of endless weight loss diets, take heart: you may have overlooked the obvious. Losing weight may not be as difficult as you think. Weight loss can be fairly easy in the healthy individual - all it takes is a few diet modifications and life-style changes along with willpower. Try our Green Tea Concentrate. It provides both antioxidants and natural energy without the "jitters" or nervous feeling that some thermogenesis products cause.
Follow directions for the herbal weight loss program of your choice. The formula for weight loss is this simple: when your body consumes more calories than it takes in, it uses calories stored in the tissues.
Losing weight means losing excess fat. A pound of fat equals about 3,500 calories. To lose 1 pound a week you need to cut 500 calories a day or increase fat-burning activity by 500 calories a day.
Excess weight may also be due to severe water retention, which can be caused by a number of culprits, such as birth control pills, and consuming too much salt.
The suggested weight loss program includes a diet high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat with adequate protein and other nutrients. On this type of program, your body breaks down fat instead of muscle. Carbohydrates also take up more space in the stomach than fats and proteins - which may make you feel fuller.
"Crash" or "Yo-Yo" dieting is ineffective and harmful. Rapid weight loss on super low-calorie and low-carbohydrate diets is due largely to lean tissue loss. Not only do these diets encourage nutritional deficiencies, but they encourage only temporary weight loss - many times the dieters gain back all of the weight they lost and then some.
The following suggestions for weight loss are designed to promote gradual, healthy, permanent weight loss of 1-3 lbs. a week - the recommended weight loss. As with any weight loss program, please consult your physician before starting, especially if you suspect a medical condition.
Calcium and weight loss
In February 2003, the National Institutes of Health published a review of studies that examined the correlation of body weight to the intake of supplemental and dietary calcium. Among the data, researchers found evidence that:
* Subjects who showed the highest level of weight loss also had the highest intake of calcium * Subjects with lower calcium intakes generally were found to have elevated body weight * Subjects with diets high in dairy and calcium tended to have greater loss of fat in the trunk area.
The NIH report notes that the studies they reviewed were mostly small in scope, but conclusive enough to justify larger, population based clinical trials - especially in light of the growing numbers of Americans suffering from obesity and other pre-diabetic conditions.
Research suggests 1,200 mg of calcium is a good daily intake for women and men over 50. Unfortuantely, the body does a poor job of absorbing calcium. But there are ways to get around the absorption problem. Magnesium is known to increase the absorption of calcium.
What should you eat?
For optimal weight loss, no more than 30% of your calories should come from fat. Six small meals a day instead of the typical three will stabilize blood sugar and reduce the likelihood of "starving and binging," which could result in food cravings and consumption of too many calories. You should consume the majority of your calories during the day; your metabolism slows down in the early evening.
Eat a limited amount of broiled, baked or roasted meat: poultry, seafood, and lean red meat. Choose food which is labeled low-fat, low-calorie, or no-fat, such as low-fat yogurt and no-fat salad dressing.
Consume moderate amounts of fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, breakfast cereal, beans, whole-grain breads and whole-grain rice. These are also high in nutrients. Fiber fills the stomach and slows the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestines, thereby controlling appetite. Reduce salt and margarine intake. Consume more olive oil. Drink fruit juices instead of colas and soft drinks. Eat more fish.
Drink eight glasses of water a day to ensure the removal of toxins and to help with water retention.
Sweet substitutions: fruit juice concentrates, honey, maple syrup and stevia.
Exercise those pounds off. Aerobic, fat-burning exercises include brisk walking, bicycling, dancing, working out to aerobic tapes. You might also consider yoga classes.
Exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes. Also, increase your overall activity, such as climbing stairs instead of using the elevator and parking your car at the opposite end of the parking lot.
The benefits of exercise include:
Burning off fat and building muscle, increasing metabolism, controlling appetite by releasing chemicals into the blood that shut off hunger signals, sugar cravings and nutritional deficiencies. You also lower the risk of chronic health problems such as heart disease.
Uncontrollable sugar cravings could be due to nutritional deficiencies or other imbalances in your body. Many times when a problem is corrected, the cravings are significantly reduced.
A deficient thyroid, which regulates our basic metabolism, might be due to a deficiency of nutrients needed for the thyroid, such as Vitamins A, C, B-2, E and the mineral iodine. Many hypoglycemics crave sugar. Some cases of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) are due, in part, to a Vitamin B-Complex deficiency, especially B-1, B-2, and B-3. The B-Complex vitamins and high quality protein will help balance blood sugar and control hypoglycemia.
Research has shown that overweight, inactive individuals have higher risk for many cancers. Being overweight and inactive can cause the body to secrete higher and higher amounts of insulin and other growth factors.
Cells exposed to high levels of these substances over an extended period of time may begin to reproduce so quickly that cancer becomes more likely. Researchers from the American Institute of Cancer Research stress that this potentially dangerous condition is reversible.
Regular physical activity can help reset the body's hormonal systems and regulate the secretion of insulin.
Losing weight and keeping it off also helps restore insulin levels to normal. As research continues, scientists will likely identify additional biological reasons that excess weight and inactivity increase risk. It is already clear, however, that diet, physical activity and weight management play key roles in cancer prevention.
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