Overweight and obesity are two alarming and growing problems for health; in this regard, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affirm that excess body weight increases the risk for:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Liver and gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
- Abnormal menstrual periods and infertility in women
- Certain cancers: cancers of the endometrium, breast, prostate, colon, esophagus, kidney and pancreas.
Overweight and obese people, on average, do not live as long as people who stay at a healthy body weight throughout their lives.
Not only are more adults overweight or obese, but more children are, too. Some of the same health problems affecting obese adults can also affect obese children.
Obese people may also suffer from social stigmatization and discrimination no matter if they are adults or children.
What is BMI?
For most people, BMI gives a good estimate of total body fat, and help to find out if a person might have a weight problem.
Body mass index, or BMI, is a way to help you figure out if you are at a healthy weight for your height. BMI is a number based on your weight and height. In general, the higher the number, the more body fat a person has. BMI helps to find out if your weight might be putting you at risk for health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
- Underweight: BMI is less than 18.5
- Normal weight: BMI is 18.5 to 24.9
- Overweight: BMI is 25 to 29.9
- Obese: BMI is 30 or more
BMI is a good way to get an idea of healthy weight ranges, but should be evaluated by a health care provider who takes into account other factors to find out if a person’s weight might pose a health risk.
Excess body weight, poor nutrition, and/or physical inactivity are all related and may all contribute to cancer risk, but body weight seems to have the strongest evidence about its role in cancer development.
Why overweight or obese people should lose weight?
Overweight or obese people who intentionally lose weight have reduced levels of certain hormones that are related to cancer risk, such as insulin, estrogens, and androgens. Losing even a small amount of weight has health benefits and is a good place to start.
The American Cancer Society recommends that people try to get to and stay at a healthy weight throughout life. The best way to stay at a healthy body weight is to balance how much you eat with how active you are. If you are overweight, the best way to get to a healthy body weight is to limit the calories you take in, and burn more calories through physical activity.
You can lower the number of calories that you take in by eating smaller amounts of food (smaller portion sizes); limiting between-meal snacks; and limiting foods and drinks that are high in calories, fat, and/or added sugars, and that provide few nutrients. Fried foods, cookies, cakes, candy, ice cream, and regular soft drinks should be replaced with vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans, and lower calorie beverages.
The American Cancer Society recommends that adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week. Children and teens should get at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day, with vigorous activity on at least 3 days each week.
It’s also important to limit your sedentary behavior such as sitting, lying down, watching TV, and other forms of screen-based entertainment. Doing some physical activity above usual activities, no matter what one’s level of activity, can have many health benefits.
Along with helping you get to or stay at a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and increasing your physical activity may have their own health benefits, including lowering your risk of cancer.