Obesity â?? the condition of weighing more than is deemed medically healthy â?? is a health crisis in Nebraska. In fact, 63% of adults in Nebraska — seven out of every ten Nebraskan men and more than half of Nebraskan women — are overweight or obese. The state’s adult obesity rate increased in 2008 for the third year in a row. Rates of type 2 diabetes, a disease typically associated with obesity, increased in Nebraska again, as well.
We also have the undesirable distinction of being the least active people in the country, ranking 50th among the 50 states in fitness. And, our kids are suffering, too: 12 percent of Nebraskaâ??s children age 10-17 are overweight, according to a 2005 survey by the Data Resource Center on Child and Adolescent Health. As if that werenâ??t enough, obesity is even hitting our pocketbooks. The cost to our taxpayers for dealing with obesity-related illnesses is a staggering $454 million per year!
The facts are clear. Obesity is killing our state â?? physically and financially. Obviously, something has to be done. Â But what?
Facing the Crisis
Healthy weight is calculated not in terms of poundage, but in terms of individual body mass index (BMI). BMI is calculated as weight in pounds x 703 / (height in inches)2
A person whose BMI is at least 25 is considered overweight; someone with a BMI of 30+ is medically obese.
There is no easy road to beating obesity. For some of us, willpower is enough to maintain a healthy diet and activity level. Others try losing weight via drugstore-paperback-type diets or so-called weight-loss pills. Neither is a realistic long-term solution to the problem. For most obese people, the best option is a medically-supervised program of gradual weight loss my means of dietary and lifestyle modification. Sadly, however, some obesity cases are too far advanced for this to work.
Fortunately, another option exists: weight loss surgery (also known as bariatric surgery).
Surgical weight loss is a proven remedy for severe obesity and obesity-related health problems for individuals with a BMI of 35 or higher. By physically altering a patientâ??s stomach so that they can eat only small amounts of food at any given time, these surgeries enable the patient to lower their daily caloric intake and lose weight.
The surgery itself is only the beginning, however. Patients who fail to follow postoperative instructions may regain the weight they lost or reach a weight-loss plateau over time.
Weight loss surgery is a serious medical procedure that exposes the patient to low but significant risks. There is always the possibility of major postoperative complications, including anemia, ulcers, internal hernias, calcium deficiencies and gallstone. And, the decision to undergo most types of weight loss surgery is generally irrevocable. Those considering surgery for the management of obesity should consult with their physician before making a decision.
Letâ??s Do It!
Nebraskans can face this crisis, but only as a team. By keeping the goal of a healthier Cornhusker State in mind, we can overcome the problems caused by widespread obesity. Letâ??s do it!