According to a recent report from the U.S. Surgeon General, obese individuals have a 50 to 100 percent greater risk of premature death from all causes than individuals without excess weight. An estimated 300,000 deaths are attributed to obesity in the United States each year.
Controlling your weight may extend your life span. Several clinical studies have found that people who were lean lived significantly longer than those who were extremely overweight. This is no surprise, considering the effects that excess weight has on your risk of developing chronic disease.
It may be comforting to know that even small losses can result in great health rewards. If you are overweight, losing even 5 to 10 percent of that excess can dramatically improve your health—lowering your blood pressure, cholesterol level and blood sugar. Plus, you will have more energy and feel motivated to continue with your program. Discover how weight loss for women can put your health on the right track.
Just as the degree of obesity is important in determining health risk, so is the location of the fat. The “apple” shaped body, carrying fat around the mid-section is associated with greater health risks, in particular type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, coronary heart disease, stroke, and early mortality. The reason for this is that researchers have discovered that visceral (belly) fat actually produces hormones and chemicals that trigger inflammation and insulin resistance, and these factors are associated with chronic disease.
While we tend to think of men as having the apple-shaped body and women having the pear- shaped body, body fat distribution in women changes with age. Below age 30 women tend to carry their fat predominantly around their hips and thighs, as cellulite. This fat is associated with the higher estrogen levels women have during the childbearing years and it can be worsened by inactivity, poor circulation and dietary factors. Nobody likes cellulite, but this fat does not carry the same risk as that gained around the mid-section. As women age they have a greater tendency to gain fat around their belly. This change in body fat distribution is also tied to hormonal changes that occur with aging, along with a number of lifestyle and genetic factors.
To see whether your belly is putting you at risk, get out a tape measure and place it around your waist (at the navel). For women, a waist more than 80 cm (32 inches) is associated with increased health risk and a waist of more than 88 cm (35 inches) is associated with substantially increased risk.
If you fall into one of these risk categories, don’t despair. In order to lose weight, women can turn to safe and effective ways to trim their midsection. Getting regular physical activity, eating a healthful diet, not smoking, controlling blood sugar levels, and balancing your hormones are key to improving your body shape and composition and optimizing your health.