Excess body weight and
obesity occur when a person
takes in more calories than he or she burns off.
Some of the excess calories are
stored in the body as fat. However, genetic, environmental,
psychological and other factors contribute to obesity.
Obesity is hitting epidemic proportions in Canada with
one in five Canadians considered obese. Being overweight
or obese increases your risk for heart disease and stroke,
diabetes, cancer, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis and gall
bladder disease. Abdominal obesity is defined as having a
waist circumference greater than 102 cm in men and
greater than 88 cm in women.
How much you weigh and
how fit you are, are two important
factors related to the risk of the "Metabolic Syndrome.
Losing weight increases the levels of HDL-C (good cholesterol)
and decreases levels of triglycerides and LDL-C (bad cholesterol).
Even a reduction of 5 -10% of your total weight can increase
the body's sensitivity to insulin and lower your blood pressure.
Exercise demonstrates a benefit on all factors of metabolic
syndrome. Try to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity
every day (bicycling, raking leaves, gardening, dancing, and
even a brisk walk). For guidance with exercise, follow
Canada's Physical Activity Guide:
People are usually encouraged
to modify their lifestyle under
the direction of a physician. Medication may be prescribed to
help you bring your metabolic system back under control.
Decreasing the amount of fats and oils in your diets, avoiding
concentrated sweets, quitting smoking and avoiding excess use of
alcohol will greatly improve your condition. If overeating is
your way of coping with stress, identify the source of your
stress and learn new ways to cope (i.e. instead of reaching for
food, go for a walk or take a hot bath).
Where your body stores the fat is a clue to your healthy
weight. Excess body fat that settles in the
stomach area (around the waist), giving you an
apple shape, puts a person at higher risk for early heart
disease. Excess weight carried below the waist (hips, buttocks
and thighs), giving you a pear shape, doesn't appear to be a
major risk factor for heart disease.