Monday, April 30, 2012

Fat or Wrinkles?

It seems to me that we have a big decision to make as we approach retirement age. I'm not talking about when or where to retire or whether we have enough money saved up. But I am talking about something that can make a huge difference affecting the rest of our lives - the choice between accepting weight-gain, which stretches out the skin and keeps it smoother or losing the weight and accepting all the wrinkles that come with a thinner body.

By now, we have been fighting wrinkles for quite a few years, but no amount of fancy creams or lotions are going to make much of a difference in the long run. Gravity will win the battle. Various tucks are possible, of course, but they are a temporary solution. The only other thing I can think of is to keep adding fat as the years go by to keep stretching the skin more and more. I could never accept that solution, but could this be a subconscious reason behind the growing number of overweight people in the US?

What is Average/Normal/Healthy?

I'm sure everyone has seen the statistics by now. According to the CDC, 33% of Americans are overweight and another 34% are considered obese. I've read of people being very upset when BMI charts put them in these categories. They see themselves as average. So many of them are overweight that they don't even recognize it anymore.

Consider this: the average American woman is 5'3" and weighs 165 pounds. To put this in perspective, I am 5'2" and weigh 115. I'm not trying to brag - this is how much I should weigh. I am actually muscular and rather big boned for my size, not some skinny little thing.

Dangers of That Extra Weight

Here are some statistics to consider:
  • When obese Type 2 Diabetes patients had bariatric surgery, 85% of them were able to go off their medication within two years, saving an average of $4,500 in annual health care costs (Archives of Surgery)
  • The risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes drops 33% with 20 minutes of exercise three times a week (Annals of Internal Medicine)
  • 36% of overweight people who were diagnosed with asthma and taking medicine for it don't actually have asthma. Excess weight can decrease lung volume. (Journal Chest)
  • The average American watches five hours of TV daily. Cutting that time in half can lead to a 12 pound weight loss per year. (Women's Health)
  • Being overweight can raise the risk of heart disease and various cancers. Visceral fat infiltrates and coats the organs, releasing inflammatory fatty acids linked to cancer and heart disease.
Some Healthy Goals
  • Blood pressure between 90/60 and 120/80
  • Resting heart rate (pulse) between 60 and 100
  • LDL Cholesterol less than 100
  • HDL Cholesterol more than 50
  • VLDL less than 40
  • Triglycerides less than 150
  • Fasting Blood Glucose between 70 and 100
  • **Waist to hip ratio between 0.6 and 0.8
** This number works better than BMI for predicting heart disease. Measure the skinniest part of your stomach (usually right above your belly button) and the widest part of your hips (your butt). Divide the first number by the second number to find your waist to hip ratio.

What Can We Do to Get Closer to Health?

Of course, this is the big question. Fortunately, there is an answer that is fairly simple and can help almost everyone become more healthy. You insurance won't pay for it, but that's OK because it doesn't really cost much money. But this is such a huge topic that I'm going to stop here and continue in my next post: The Best Medicine in the World.

No comments:

Post a Comment