Tackling the Obesity Epidemic

It’s no secret that obesity is one of the country’s most serious health problems. In the last 20 years, adult obesity rates have doubled while childhood obesity rates have more than tripled, according to an annual report released by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Obesity is a major health crisis in our country. We take better care of our cars than our bodies,” Karen LaJambe, Nurse Practitioner at the Primary Care Clinic in Snoqualmie Valley Hospital, said. “We get busy in our lives and put exercise at the bottom of our list.”

According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 35 percent of American adults are obese. Washington currently ranks 28th in the country, with self-reported obesity rates at 26.5 percent for adults. The latest percentile estimates for children between the ages of 2 to 19 years who are considered overweight or obese range from 26.7 to 33.6 percent.

“Concerns about the trends in children’s weight have been brewing for several years now in the healthcare community,” Ron Spiegel, MD and Pediatrician for Snoqualmie Ridge Medical Clinic said. “With more and more children being diagnosed with elevated BMI’s (Body Mass Index), the conversations about this issue need to be out in the open and dealt with directly.”

BMI uses height and weight measurements to estimate how much body fat a person has. Adults who have a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese. Children are considered obese when their BMI is greater than the 95th percentile.

Obesity contributes to serious diseases and conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and high blood pressure. Inactivity, poor eating habits and even genetic factors play a role in weight problems.

“We are creating health problems that are preventable with a little health maintenance every day,” LaJambe said. “We have to find a way to increase our activity. Stop what you’re doing for just a little bit. Run in place in your office or in front of your TV and add some activity into your daily routine.”

Healthy lifestyle habits, including proper nutrition and increased physical activity, can lower the risk of becoming obese and developing obesity-related diseases.

“I am still optimistic that we can get a grip on this problem,” Spiegel said. “Our community can look this problem directly in the eye and look for ways to improve their health and the health of our children.”

For other tips on weight management, visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/.