Overweight, obesity pose greater risk for medical complications

  • Published
  • By Ken Ballard
  • Health and Wellness Center
Obesity in America is an epidemic, which led the CDC to rank it as the No. 1 health threat facing America. 

In 2004, the Center for Disease Control found that 65 percent of American adults were overweight and 30 percent were obese. 

Unfortunately, our children are following in our footsteps.  The proportion of overweight children ages 6 to 11 has more than doubled while adolescents ages 12 to 19 has tripled. 

These are just a few of the statistics the Air Force Materiel Command is using to express interest in the health of its fighting force through body mass index. 

Index weight categories include underweight, normal, overweight and obese. Underweight reflects a BMI under 19. The normal category ranges from 19 to 24.9, while overweight is 25 to 29.9 and obese extends beyond 30. 

Those in the overweight and obese categories run a greater risk of developing extensive medical complications such as arthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and respiratory difficulties, such as sleep apnea.

Understandably, health care providers seek to reduce the number of people in these two categories -- through education, lifestyle changes and medications. 

The body mass index is a ratio of body weight to height.  You can calculate BMI by dividing weight in pounds by height in inches squared and multiplying by 703.

The higher the BMI, the more weight people carry for their height. This is typically an indication of extra fat a person is carrying. However, someone with a large amount of muscle mass will also have an elevated BMI. Skin-fold caliper readings or water immersion testing can differentiate between fat and muscle. 

For more information, call the Health and Wellness Center at 277-8480.