According to the CDC, more than 60% of women in the United States are considered overweight or obese. In the following brief Q&A, women’s health expert Marla Ahlgrimm answers a few common questions about women and weight.
Q: How is obesity defined?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. However, women with a BMI of 25 are considered overweight. BMI is the way doctors measure body fat composition based on a person’s height and weight.
Q: What causes people to become overweight?
Marla Ahlgrimm: There are a number of factors that play a role in how much a person weighs. Unhealthy behaviors, such as overeating and being sedentary most of the time, are major contributors. Environment and culture also affect a person’s weight by directing their behaviors and relationships with around food. Genetics also help determine a woman’s waist size and women with a family history of obesity are more likely to be overweight.
Q: What negative health effects are associated with being overweight?
Marla Ahlgrimm: An elevated BMI increases a woman’s risk of certain types of cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, type II diabetes, respiratory issues, and gallbladder disease. Complicating matters further is that different body shapes have different risks of developing weight-related health concerns. Women with an apple shaped body – larger midsection than thighs – are more at risk of health issues than a same-weight woman with an hourglass figure.
Q: What are some ways to lose weight?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Changing your body’s composition is a matter of a lifestyle change. No single diet or weight loss program is enough. Most women can shed excess body weight by simply changing the way they eat. Swap processed foods with those in their natural state and avoid sugar and excessive carbohydrates. Eating more fruits, vegetables, and lean meats and maintaining the caloric intake of 2000 calories or less is the best way to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.