The latest big thing - Obesity!

As the obesity fanfare continues researchers in Britain say a person's body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference are the easiest ways of predicting health risks due to excess weight, particularly amongst older men.

Of late questions have been raised as to whether BMI, a measure of weight in relation to height, is in fact a true indicator of health, as many athletes and sportsmen, on this basis, would fall into the category of obese.

Dr. Sheena E. Ramsay of the Royal Free Hospital and University College Medical School in London and colleagues, looked at 4,252 British men between the ages of 60 and 79, in order to find out whether a person's percentage of fat and lean mass related to health and disability.

The researchers found that BMI, waist circumference and fat mass index were all closely related to one another, and increases in these measurements were linked to disability, poor health, and risk factors for heart disease and diabetes such as high blood pressure and low levels of "good" cholesterol.

While having a low fat-free mass index was tied to an increased risk of cancer and poor respiratory function, this measurement had no independent relationship to other measures of health or disability.

In other new research it has been found that women who accept their bodies regardless of flaws are more likely to eat healthily or intuitively.

Researchers at Ohio State University in the U.S. say they found that adopting a positive body image is more likely to be associated with intuitive eating, and women's typical reasons for dieting, dissatisfaction with their bodies, may backfire.

Dr. Tracy Tylka, an assistant professor of psychology, says intuitive eaters don't diet but instead recognize and respond to internal hunger and fullness cues to regulate what and how much they eat.

It seems intuitive eating has three components: unconditional permission to eat when hungry and whatever food is desired; eating for physical rather than emotional reasons; and reliance on internal hunger/fullness cues.

Tylka found that women who followed intuitive eating principles had a slightly lower body weight than women who did not, and were more concerned with how their body functioned than its appearance.

Tylka says intuitive eating is positively associated with psychological well-being, high self-esteem, positive emotions, adaptive coping, self-acceptance, optimism, and resilience in the face of stress.

All this, just as America is faced with an epidemic of obesity where the adult obesity rates in 31 states have risen to such an extent that an estimated two-thirds of Americans are now at risk of developing life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, stroke and cancer.

According to official figures, the percentage of obese adults exceeds 25 percent in 13 states and experts believe a combination of poor nutrition and lack of physical activity, are to blame.

Mississippi is now considered to be the 'fattest' state, with 29.5 percent of its adult population considered obese, closely followed by Alabama and West Virginia.

To add to the worry, recent research has found that being obese in midlife dramatically increases your risk of dying early and people who are overweight when they are 50 have a 20 percent to 40 percent increased risk of dying prematurely.

For obese people, the risk of premature death is two to three times that of normal-weight people.

The research can be found in the American Journal of Epidemiology; How Obesity Policies Are Failing America report from the Trust for America's Health and the New England Journal of Medicine.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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