Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Study: Americans Destined To Be Overweight

This Chicago Sun-Times story cites a 30-year study that predicts Americans are overwhelmingly destined to become overweight or obese as they get older.

The Framington Heart Study, which is part of a long-term study of heart disease sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, consisted of 4,000 white adults who were between the ages of 30 and 59 when the study began in 1971 and observed them every four years for fluctuations in their weight and body mass index until 2001.

The study found that 90 percent of men and 70 percent of women eventually become overweight as they mature, including one-third of them becoming obese. Researchers say many people who make it well into adulthood without any weight problems at all still end up overweight.

Dr. Ramachandran Vasan, the study's lead author from Boston University Medical School, said this mean that people should not become "complacent" about their weight and assume they won't become overweight. Vasan and his research team conclude that the obesity problem may even be worse than expected because of the greater risk factors that African-Americans and Hispanics have for becoming obese. None of the study participants were non-white.

"I think it means that we have a major problem in terms of the burden of overweight and obesity,'' Vasan said. "You're at increased risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, several forms of cancer, osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea. There's a host of conditions that have been linked to excess weight."

Results from this study are published in this week's issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

So what does this mean? Are we all just supposed to just sit back and wait for our weight to go up? I'm not buying into the notion that obesity is inevitable. As someone who was able to overcome a severe obesity problem after allowing myself to get up to 410 pounds, I just could not imagine ever allowing myself to get that way again. Maybe the key to it is to keep the subject of weight on your radar screen so much so that you are not "surprised" by a 20, 30, or even 50 pound weight gain.

The reason my weight dramatically fluctuated for so many years was because I had no discipline in my eating habits. My motto was eat whatever you want, however much you want and when you want without anyone telling me otherwise. You'll find it interesting that I do the exact same thing now, except I am more discerning about the foods I will allow in my mouth. For me it has been low-carb to keep me on track, but for others it might be some other plan for maintaining their weight. Find something you can rely on to help you keep your weight in check.

I'm laughing now thinking of all those people who have never had to worry about their weight. They are going to be in for a big shock if weight gain ever happens to them. It's a little ironic that many of the jocks from high school end up with a middle-aged pot belly, don't you think? I'm coming up on my 20-year class reunion in a few years and I wonder what they'll think of my change in the opposite direction?! I can't wait! :)

People who are livin' la vida low-carb won't have to worry about gaining weight as they grow older. We have a way of eating that suits our lifestyle and is an excellent method for maintaining weight forever. It's a lifestyle change you can live with and never ever have to worry about being overweight or obese again.

You can sent an e-mail to the study's author, Dr. Ramachandran Vasan, at


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