Robin Kuleck, Senior Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
You may not yet find the word “diabesity” listed in the Webster’s Dictionary, but a quick look around you at any public space and chances are you will see numerous examples.
America, as a nation has a growing problem; obesity and overweight leading to the highly preventable diagnosis of Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes.
In other words, as we continue to consume more calories than we expend creating a cascading series of events which, if not corrected leads to overweight, obesity, diabetes and numerous other life-shortening complications.
In other words, we are eating ourselves to an early death. The HBO Web site hosts a series of four documentaries that explore the American obesity crisis titled the Weight of the Nation and available free for viewing at http://theweightofthenation.hbo.com/.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) the terms “overweight” and “obesity” refer to body weight that’s greater than what is considered healthy for a certain height. BMI or Body Mass Index is a calculation that takes into account your height and weight to come up with a number that is related to estimated body fat, a good gauge to predict weight related health problems.
BMI does have some limitations and is used by health professionals with other criteria to determine a person’s health status. Children, teens and adults have different acceptable BMI ranges. For most adults, a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 puts them at a normal weight. The designation of overweight ranges from 25 to 29.9, Obese range is 30 to 39.9 and extreme obesity (sometimes called morbidly obese is a BMI of 40 or greater.
So let’s put these numbers into context using a BMI chart. The average American women is 5 feet, 4 inches tall and should weigh under 140 pounds. Weights between 140 and 174 pounds is considered overweight and the obesity designation would begin at 175 pounds.
The average American man is 5 foot, 9 inches tall and a normal weight would be 162 pounds or less. Weights between 162 and 202 pounds would be considered overweight with obesity starting at 203 pounds. A simple internet search of “BMI” will come up with charts so you can easily determine your BMI as a start to assess your current health status and potential future complications.
It is estimated that 63 percent of American are overweight or obese. In the years between 1987 and 2010 the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes has tripled to 20.9 million. Another 79 million Americans fall in the category of prediabetes, with blood sugar levels higher than acceptable ranges.
Their pancreas produces adequate supply of insulin, for a normal-sized body. It tries to supply additional insulin to meet the needs of a larger body, a strain on the system that can lead to insulin resistance resulting in higher blood sugar levels and a diagnosis of diabetes. Rather than accepting the diagnosis of pre diabetes or type 2 diabetes, people can take steps to improve their health. Eat less and exercise more.
Make it a point to get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day. Park your car further away from your destination so you walk more. Spend less time sitting and more time on your feet. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk in place during TV commercial breaks. Increase the number of meals you prepare and consume at home.
Currently 40 percent of meals are eaten away from home. Many of those food items are convenience or fast food items higher in fat and sweets than those you would eat at home. Pay attention to calories.
Most adults only need to consume about 2,000 calories a day to maintain their weight and energy levels. Fast food chains now post the calorie contents of their various offerings so choose wisely. Does it make sense to drink 400 calories or eat them?
The point of this article is not weight shaming, but to help you understand that it’s time to explore your lifestyle choices and consider steps you can take to avoid type 2 Diabetes and the various complications associated with this life-shortening disease.
Diabesity is a growing national concern and for many, it is personal. Reversing the trend starts with small changes that over time become personal health habits.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic, consider enrolling in an upcoming Dining with Diabetes workshop series sponsored by Penn State Cooperative Extension.
This research-based program runs for five weeks and covers topics such as how to read nutrition labels, healthy cooking and eating, serving sizes, good fats, and decision making. A1c and Blood pressure checks are conducted during the first class and at the three-month follow up class where the topic of the challenges of eating away from home are covered.
Upcoming classes are posted onhttp://www.extension.psu.edu/diabetes. In Clearfield County a class is planned for August in Morrisdale.
The Women’s Health Task Force is a small group volunteering their time to educate women and families on important health issues. If you have an interest in health, work in a caring profession, or just want to volunteer with other sincere individuals, consider attending our planning meetings.
These meetings are held the first Thursday of the month beginning at 12 p.m. The next meeting will be held Thursday, June 2 at the Clearfield County Career & Technology Center, 1620 River Rd., Clearfield, PA 16830.
Lori Rancik will lead this meeting where the June 23, fourth annual 5K Run/Walk Fundraiser will be on the agenda. All interested persons are encouraged to attend. Additional information is available by calling Robin Kuleck, Penn State Extension, at 814-765-7878, Ext.2. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/whtfclearfieldcounty.