The October 1998 issue of the Journal of The
American Dietetic Association included a supplement on the obesity epidemic. Here are
a few powerful thoughts from the supplement.
- According to NHANES III (National Health and
Nutrition Examination Survey), 1/3 of the US adult population is now obese. From
1980-1990, the prevalence of obesity in the US rose an alarming 40%.
- The standards to define overweight and obesity
changed in 1998. Overweight is now defined as a BMI (body mass index) of 25 or higher.
Obese is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher, and extreme obesity is defined as BMI of 40 or
higher. For a person 5'4" tall, a BMI of 25 occurs at 145 pounds. A BMI of 30 occurs
at 174 pounds.
- The US is not only facing an epidemic of obesity,
but also an epidemic of inactivity. Only 22% of adults meet the minimum standard of daily
physical activity (30 minutes a day). 54% of adults are intermittently active, and 24% of
adults are sedentary.
- Physical activity must be valued for more than
weight control. Regular physical activity results in a wide range of benefits (change in
body composition, improved mental health, increased feelings of self control and self
destiny, increased mobility, etc.). There are benefits to increasing physical activity
even if no weight loss occurs. A realistic goal may be "healthy obesity."
- For some individuals, the attempted cure of
obesity may be worse than the disease in the form of self-hatred from yet another failure.
Is it time to shift the approach of treating obesity from a focus on weight loss to a
focus on quality of life?
- The food industry produces food equal to 3700
calories a day for every man, woman, and child.
- Obesity is now recognized as a chronic disease
(not a lack of self-discipline). Historically, treatment of obesity in the medical
community was too often considered trivial. In addition to this, the public often
perceives obesity negatively and unsympathetically.
Source: Rippe JM, ed. The
obesity epidemic: A mandate for a multidisciplinary approach. Journal of
The American Dietetic Association. 1998;98(suppl 2):S5-S64.
Compiled by Betty Holmes, MS, RD
Return to Thought Bullets--main page.
Return to home page.