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The Start Of A New Year Is A Good Time To Address Your Health (February 01, 2010)

Although we're already getting well into 2010, are you still carrying a bit of extra weight from your holiday celebrations?


Although we’re already getting well into 2010, are you still carrying a bit of extra weight from your holiday celebrations?

In your truck, you encounter weigh scales every work day. They monitor whether your gross vehicle weight is legal. Overloading your truck reduces its efficiency and takes a toll on the life of your vehicle.

Weigh scales in your home monitor whether your body weight is healthy. Overloading your body takes a toll on the length and quality of your life. Carrying extra weight has serious consequences. If your truck wears out, you can get a new model. But if your body wears out, you can’t. And it’s not just about how you look.

Certainly, we don’t look our best squeezing into our old jeans with those extra pounds, but that’s not the main concern. We could always let out the belt and get a bigger pair of jeans to be more comfortable. The real issues are: how and why is that extra weight affecting our health?

It is reducing our body’s efficiency and putting an extra load on every bone, organ and system.

That’s why overweight people (with a Body Mass Index of 25 and above) will be more likely to experience the following conditions: coronary heart disease;Type 2 diabetes; cancer (particularly endometrial, breast, and colon); high blood pressure; high cholesterol; stroke; liver and gallbladder disease; and osteoarthritis.

Heart disease happens because a fatty material (plaque) builds up on the inside walls of the arteries which supply blood and oxygen to your heart. This plaque makes the passage narrow, so the blood doesn’t flow as easily. Your chances of having heart disease and a heart attack get higher as your BMI increases. You may also get congestive heart failure, a chronic condition where your heart can’t pump enough blood to carry enough oxygen to feed your body.

High blood pressure occurs when there is too much force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. When you have more body cells to feed oxygen to, your heart must pump harder just to keep it moving. High blood pressure can lead to stroke and aneurisms.

Stroke is also more common in heavy people because they often have fatty deposits in their arteries which can form a blood clot. If that clot lodges in an artery close to the brain and blocks the blood flow, it causes a stroke. Again, the risk of having a stroke rises as BMI increases.

Type 2 diabetes is also more common in overweight people. It occurs when blood sugar levels are too high. In healthy people, the body makes insulin to move the blood sugar into cells to be used.

However, for people with Type 2 diabetes, the cells don’t respond well to the insulin that’s been made. This is quite serious because diabetes is a leading cause of early death, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness. Significantly, more than 80% of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight.

High cholesterol can also be a problem. Overweight people frequently have abnormal levels of blood fats, high levels of triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol) and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which are tied to heart disease.

Metabolic Syndrome is used to evaluate an overweight person’s risk factors for the conditions we’ve looked at above.

Although you could get any condition by itself they often occur in groups. Metabolic Syndrome happens when a person has at least three of the following heart disease risk factors:

1.A pot belly (an apple shape), extra fat in the waist area is a greater risk factor for heart disease than extra fat in any other parts of the body;

2. Abnormal blood fat levels, including high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol;

3. Higher than normal blood pressure;

4. Higher than normal fasting blood sugar levels;

5. Cancer.

Osteoarthritis is also more common in heavy people because extra weight stresses and wears away the protective cartilage and fluids separating the joints. Remember, your frame was designed to carry a specific amount of weight. Extra poundage naturally creates extra stress and strains.

Gallstones are another common ailment in heavy people. They are hard pieces of stone-like material (usually formed from excess cholesterol) that form in the gallbladder. They can cause severe abdominal or back pain.

These are the most common conditions felt by overweight people. Is your weight taking a toll on your current health and setting you up for some future conditions? Unfortunately, you can’t just call dispatch and pull over to the side of the road to unload a few skids or crates like you could in your rig.

But, you can make some simple changes that will help you get within spec’. Next month we’ll explore simple ways to help you lighten your load.

-Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at karen_bowen@yahoo.com.


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