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Obesity Poses Greater Health Risk than Smoking: Part II
Obesity Poses Greater Health Risk than Smoking: Part I

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# Monday, 26 October 2009
Monday, 26 October 2009 15:06:27 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00) ( General Life )

The WC is an indicator of health risk that is associated with abdominal obesity. There are greater health risks associated with excess fat around the waist and upper body (also recognized as an ‘apple’ body shape) than with excess fat located in the hips and thighs areas (also recognized as a ‘pear’ body shape).A WC measurement of 102 cm. or more in the male population, and a measurement of 88 cm. or more in the female population is associated with the increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease as well as high blood pressure.

Other health conditions can interact with obesity that greatly elevates the risk of developing a wide range of chronic health issues. Age and family medical history as well as other health conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and/or high blood sugar levels combined with obesity all increase the likelihood of developing more serious diseases and/or medical conditions. Lifestyle choices such as poor eating habits, lack of physical activity and/or smoking not only increase the risks of chronic health problems, but actually exacerbate the burden on the individual’s health.

Achieving as well as maintaining a healthy body weight is essential for good health. Healthy body weight is usually achieved through healthy eating as well as regular physical exercise. Some helpful ways to help control body weight are:

  • Find a way to incorporate regular physical activity into your daily routine. This can be achieved by such simple things as talking a walk during your lunch break, using stairs instead of the elevator, etc. Splitting up exercise time into shorter sessions starting with 10 minutes of activity 3 times a day may be easier to incorporate into your schedule. Set up an exercise routine that you can maintain; sporadically going to the gym is not going to give you the desired results.
  • Make your meal portions smaller. Many times people are not aware of how much they eat and how many calories they consume because they think they are eating a regular sized portion. Start serving smaller portions; those who are still hungry can always have ‘seconds’. Avoid eating out in establishments that offer ‘all you can eat’ and/or restaurants that serve very large portions. As alcoholic and other sweetened beverages are high in calories avoid them and substitute instead non-sweetened beverages.
  • Eat a nutritionally balanced diet. Pay attention to the labels on food products, many times what we think are low-fat and low in calories actually isn’t.

Remember that life and health insurance premiums are based on health status. Obesity, like smoking, lowers your health status meaning you may be paying higher rates. If you are obese, and have lost the weight, consult with your life insurance broker about this new development in your health status, you may be eligible for a reduction in your rates.

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# Saturday, 03 October 2009
Saturday, 03 October 2009 16:06:27 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( General Life )

One of the longest ongoing health studies in the United States claims that obesity is now a bigger overall threat to adults’ health than smoking cigarettes. The study, which is conducted by researchers from Columbia University and the City College of New York, claims that obesity causes just as much, and possibly even more diseases than tobacco consumption. While smoking rates are starting to actually decline, obesity shortens the lifespan. While smoking generally impacts health in such ways as heart disease and/or cancer, the impacts of obesity are much larger.

The study was conducted over a period of fifteen years, and involved interviewing more than 3.5 million people. The study calculated the number of ‘quality adjusted life years’ (QALYs) that were lost due to obesity and smoking. Quality adjusted life years are a measurement of the quality as well as the quantity of a lived life; it assigns higher scores for good and/or perfect health and lower scores for illness, injury and/or death. The study showed that between 1993 to 2008 smoking in the American adult population decreased by 18.5%; meanwhile the proportion of obese American adults increased by 85%. There is no valid reasoning to suggest that these figures are not mirrored in the Canadian population. Statistics Canada has reported that two out of every 3 Canadian adults is either overweight and/or obese.

Obesity can cause such complex health problems such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes;
  • Liver disease;
  • Coronary heart disease;
  • Sleep apnea and/or other respiratory issues;
  • Joint issues, resulting in joint replacements;
  • Hypertension and/or high blood pressure;
  • Stroke;
  • Gallbladder disease;
  • Osteoarthritis;
  • Cancers such as breast cancer, colon and endometrial cancer;
  • Mental health issues such as low self-esteem and/or depression.

Health professionals assess a person’s weight status by using 2 tools, the body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC). These tools are used on all adults 18 years of age and older, with the exception of pregnant and/or breastfeeding women. The BMI is calculated on a weight-to-height ratio. Rather than directly measure the amount of body fat in the individual, it is an indicator of the health risks that are associated with being either under or over weight. In the Canadian weight classification system, there are four categories of BMI:

  • Underweight (less than 18.5);
  • Normal weight (between 18.5 and 24.9);
  • Overweight (between 25 and 29.9);
  • Obese (30 and over).

This article will be continues in Part II.

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