If you’ve recently visited your doctor, chances are he discussed a new term you’ve never heard of: body mass index, or BMI. But, what is BMI? And, how does it affect your health?
A Primer on Obesity
Muffin top. Love handles. Beer belly. Call it what you want. Most of us are familiar with the struggle of managing our weight. A 2007 survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that 63% of American men and women are overweight or obese. Weight loss has become a $20 billion industry, responsible for the South Beach Diet, Weight Watchers, the Atkins Diet, Nutrisystem and more.
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease claims more than 610,000 deaths a year – that’s one-fourth of all annual deaths. While there’s nothing you can do about risk factors like advancing age and gender, other factors like living a sedentary lifestyle and obesity can be successfully managed and reduce your risk for heart disease.
As you gain weight, you put more stress on your heart in an effort to pump blood around to an ever-increasing body size, leading to hypertension. Weight gain is often associated with higher triglycerides, higher LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and lower HDL cholesterol (the good kind). Next, comes arthritis, joint pain, and the threat of stroke and diabetes. Eventually, you realize it’s time to make a change.