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DR. KESTNER: Being overweight is new normal

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According to a study in the news this week, most moms of overweight toddlers think their child is normal size.

In the study conducted in Maryland, 281 moms were asked about the relative body size of their baby.

Of the moms that had babies or toddlers that are overweight according to medical perspectives, almost 90 percent of them responded that they thought their child was of normal size.

Of all of the moms, the ones that responded that their child was not normal were likely to have underweight children.

There are a number of interpretations of these findings, but the inescapable conclusion is that it appears that most moms’ perspective of what a healthy child should weigh is quite different from that of the medical standards.

Other studies released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently indicated that approximately one fifth of children are already overweight by the age of five and that it is estimated that at least 40 percent of adults will be obese by the year 2030.

Obese is defined by the CDC as having a body mass index (BMI) score of 30 or higher. As an example, an adult that is 5 foot 9 inches tall would have to weigh more than 203 pounds before they would fall into the obese category.

This prediction does not include people that are considered overweight but not obese. The CDC considers people with a BMI of more than 25 but under 30 as being overweight.

To use the example of the 5-foot-9-inch person above, if they weighed 169 pounds or more they would be considered overweight.

To compare these predictions to our culture’s current status, approximately 34 percent of adults are now in the obese group and about the same amount of people in the overweight category, meaning that approximately two-third of adults are already at risk for weight-related illness.

If the estimated projection holds true, then more than 75 percent of us will be overweight or obese in less than twenty years.

In other words, our society has a very serious weight problem and it is getting worse each year.

Most news stories report on something that you and I can do little about. This one is no exception in terms of our being able to affect the trend.

However, individually, each of us can make an intentional decision to be abnormal.

That’s right.

This is one clear case where being abnormal places us at a distinct advantage. If more of us are already overweight than average or underweight, then as of now the new normal is being too heavy.

Given the choice, I would prefer to be abnormal, relatively speaking. Wouldn’t you?

Here’s the thing.

If we are to avoid being overweight, we must realize that it will be necessary to be very intentional about it. In the absence of a very focused effort to maintain a healthy body weight, we are likely to end up in the overweight or obese categories.

Statistically speaking, two-thirds of the readers of this column are already too heavy. If you are in this group, take heart. Although our society as a whole has never been so overweight, there has never been a time that learning how to lose weight is so easy.

Information abounds about weight-loss strategies, plans, systems, programs, groups and clinics. Most people that are too heavy really can lose weight. And surprisingly, the path to weight loss is not necessarily a rugged one.

However, following the right path to permanent weight loss is important. Crash diets don’t work. They never have, they never will, regardless of how many people keep trying them.

And remember, commitment to a persistent effort to alter lifestyle habits does work to reduce body fat and improve health.

If you know someone that might be trying to lose weight so they can avoid being in the heaviest two-thirds of the population, please encourage them in any way that you can. Their health may depend on their success.
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Dr. Kestner
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Dr Mark Kestner, Health Care, Obesity, Voices, Weight Loss
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Members Opinions:
May 17, 2012 at 7:26am
The BMI example given is over simplistic in that it dosen't point out that muscle weighs more than fat and that it does not indicate the muscle to fat ratio of the 169 lb example. One person may be muscular and small waisted while the other could have a huge gut and little muscle.
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