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Weight Loss: Why should we care?

What exactly is weight loss?

Weight loss is an increase in body weight in which the amount of calories or energy expenditure exceeds the amount of calories or energy input over a period of time.  For specific individuals, body weight is determined by genetic, metabolic, behavioral, environmental, cultural and socioeconomic factors.  The rapid increase in prevalence of obese individuals considered to be overweight, suggests that behavioral and environmental factors play a very large role in contributing to the current epidemic.  Many experts consider what they refer to as the "toxic environment" characterized by high calorie (energy dense) foods and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle as being the primary attributes leading to the steady increase in overweight individuals in need of weight loss.  This series of articles will focus primarily on the behavioral treatment of overweight and obese individuals, including implementing and maintaining increases in energy expenditure (i.e. physical activity) and decreases in calorie consumption. 

 

Some basic facts about being overweight or obese: 

It order to have a determination of being overweight, you have to have some standard measure relating height compared to some level of desirable weight.  Individuals with a body mass index (BMI), or ratio of weight-to-height, of 25-25.9 are considered overweight.

Obesity is usually defined as the excessively high amount of body fat in relation to lean body mass.  Individuals with a BMI of 30 or greater are usually considered obese. 

  • Obesity is the number two preventable cause of death in the United States.  It is a chronic disease that has also reached to global proportions.
  • In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 64% of adults are either overweight or obese.  The prevalence of obesity in adults has increased from 15 to 31% in the past 25 years.
  • According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2002:

18 states reported obesity prevalence rates of 15-19%.

29 states report obesity rates of 20-24%

3 states also have reported obesity prevalence rates greater than 25%

  • In adolescents and children, approximately one of five children meet the criteria for being overweight or obese.  Prevalence rates have almost doubled in the last 25 years.
  • The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey Data report prevalence rates increased from an estimated:

7-11% in 6-11-year-old children;

5-11% in 12-19-year-old children.

  • An increased risk of adult morbidity and mortality is also associated with overweight children.  Also, overweight children are at a significantly higher risk of becoming overweight adults.

Additional trends reported from prevalence data on obesity indicate: 

  • The trends reported above apply across all racial and ethnic groups, genders, ages and educational levels.
  • For all ethnic and racial groups combined, women of lower socioeconomic status were approximately 50% more likely to be obese than those from higher socioeconomic levels.
  • The prevalence of obesity and being overweight increases until about age 60, after which it then begins to decline.
  • Adolescents who are overweight have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.  If one parent is overweight or obese, this also has a tendency to increase the risk to about 80% for adolescents.

Information from Practitioner's Guide to Evidence- Based Psychotherapy

Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic  MA Licensed Psychologist   Ph.D. Candidate  (Health and Geriatric Psychologist)

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