Being overweight is not just a vanity thing. Extra weight can lead to all kinds of health problems.
Those who are 40-percent overweight are twice as likely to die prematurely as a normal-weight person.
And the years in between now and then can be fraught with all sorts of health challenges that can perhaps be held at bay by shedding some of the weight.
Obesity is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, osteoarthritis and respiratory issues as well as a host of other threats to our health.
“If you are overweight or obese you increase your risk of 35 major diseases, especially cancer and cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Keith Parmer, a family medicine specialist in the Floyd Primary Care network in Rome.
“Obesity carries the same risk as smoking for cancer and cardiovascular disease,” he said.
So the most basic truth is that if you are overweight, you are more like to have health problems and maybe even a chronic disease.
Health is the No. 1 reason cited by the hundreds of participants in the 2011 Health Quest that wraps up Saturday in Rome. The public weight-loss initiative is presented by the Rome-Floyd County YMCA, Floyd Medical Center and the Rome News-Tribune.
While there’s friendly competition among the individuals and teams who signed on to lose weight, the bottom line is that participants want to get healthier and feel better in their own bodies.
Some want to get off a host of medications or derail hereditary predispositions.
There are real health benefits to losing weight.
Parmer said one motivator should be that you’ll feel better and have more energy by getting rid of excess weight, even if you are not obese.
“If you are 15 pounds overweight and your blood pressure and cholesterol are OK and you don’t have joint issues, then it may not be a problem for you.
“But if you have elevated lipids or blood pressure, it’s amazing what a difference 10, 12 or 15 pounds can make.”
Our weight is part of our personal health in which we can play an active role. We can make a difference.
“It’s not rocket science,” said the doctor, “and it’s not drugs.”
Parmer says to just get moving. As people get busier and busier formal exercise is not always a priority.
But as last year’s Health Quest winner Doug Walker proved, just walking can make a huge difference. He walked several miles a day — and still does — and he was able to lose more than 75 pounds.
But the other piece of the puzzle though is watching what we eat … and drink.
Parmer says that since a majority of the human body is made up of water, that should be the main fluid we put back into it.
“People need to replenish those fluids with water — not brown stuff, blue stuff, green stuff or orange stuff. Just plain water,” he said. “Plus it fills you up.”
He discourages sweetened drinks of all kinds, whether they are diet or not. “Diet drinks trick the brain and it still thinks your body has taken in sugar. You can gain weight drinking diet drinks.”
Your diet needs to be about balance and Parmer worries that as people continue to flock to fast food restaurants they pile on the carbs and thus the weight.
“Carbs are cheaper and they’re going to load you up,” he noted.
He said since the 1990s much focus has been put on fats.
“Everyone was educated about fat, but carbs are the food group that is making us fatter,” he said.
Parmer stresses three meals a day and preaches that eating breakfast is the right way to start your day.
“Eat breakfast within a half hour of waking up, and you’ll burn an extra 400 calories a day because you jumpstart your metabolism,” he said.
But he notes a breakfast heavy on protein is the smart choice rather than sugary cereals or glazed sweets with our coffee.
Parmer says he’s especially worried about childhood obesity and that “today’s generation of young people might not live as long as their parents.”
“If we don’t do something, we are going to be in trouble,” he said.
That’s why the presenters and the participants of Health Quest are doing something.
The program offers the comfort and support of a whole group of people trying to get healthy together.
And the results of their hard work will be revealed at Saturday’s finale.
Tips for Weight Loss Travis Martin of Rome is the creator and founder of Thrive Weight Loss. He started with himself and now his program has helped thousands of people lose and maintain weight.
Here are tips he shared to help those who are ready to start losing weight: