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Healthline Connects
Healthline Connects

Healthy Weight Week: January 21-27

It seems as if our culture is obsessed with body weight. We are bombarded with reports of an obesity epidemic on one hand and on the other hand, we hear of models getting kicked off the runways for being too thin. The Healthy Weight Network asks us to observe Healthy Weight Week, but what is "healthy weight"? The first thing you need to know is your Body Mass Index (BMI). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides a BMI calculator for adults (click here to calculate) and children (click here to calculate for kids and teens). Acceptable BMI for kids is about 15 and for adults, BMI should fall between 19 and 26. If your BMI is too low, try eating six healthy meals per day. If your BMI is over 27, the equation is simple: eat less and excercise more!

The economic impact of obesity to individuals and the nation is sobering. In 1998, national medical expenses for excess weight (BMI 25–29.9) and obesity (BMI greater than 30), accounted for almost ten percent of total U.S. medical expenditures, or $92.6 billion in 2002 dollars, according to a CDC study. The Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity reports that as much as 7 billion dollars is spent annually on advertising junk food directed at children. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that Americans spend 1 billion dollars on weight loss products annually. Salt Lake Tribune reporter Sheena McFarland chronicles her weight loss in her blog, The Incredible Shrinking Sheena. Obsession with being skinny carries a steep price, too. Brazilan model Ana Marie Reston, with a dangerously low BMI of 13.1, died in November 2006 due to complications of anorexia nervosa. The New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) reported that sick passengers, most of them fainting from dieting, are the major cause of train delays in that city. Emergency responders state that people go three to four days without eating to try to lose weight. Don't waste your hard earned dollars on snack foods or weight loss products!

Tennessee, with the fifth largest obese population in the U.S., has developed the TennCare Weight Watchers Partnership Program to promote healthy behaviors among its citizens over age 10 with a BMI greater than thirty and to reduce costs of their Medicaid program. West Virginia, with 64 % of the population designated as obese, has followed suit. . Check out this nifty graphic from CNN to see how your state ranks in promoting healthy weight in all age groups. To maintain or achieve a healthy weight, set simple achievable goals and be consistent with one or two goals for a period of three to four months. Try these tips:
  • Park a mile or two from work and walk to and from work every day. If you use public transportation, get off at a stop a mile or two from your jobsite and walk. Get out at lunch and take a walk.
  • Choose fruit, nuts or popcorn over snack foods. You may think of nuts as being high in fat, but the fat in nuts is good fat. Nuts also have micronutrients not available in other foods. Drink water or tea rather than packaged drinks. It's good for the environment and good for your body!
  • Take three deep breathes, change positions every hour and stretch.

Happy Healthy Weight Week and good luck with your goals!

Photo courtesy of Celeste33 at Creative Commons.
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