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OBESITY KILLS EARLY 

Odler Robert Jeanlouie, MD



Have you ever seen an obese or overweight octogenarian?  No. Obese people die early, usually in their sixties, rarely in their seventies. Georges Walker Bush and Nelson Mandela are still alive, in their nineties, because they are not obese. Excess weight kills. Overweight people rarely live long enough, past 65, to enjoy their social security checks.  . What is excess body weight? It is all weight that goes 20% over the ideal body weight. By nomenclature, it is called overweight. When it crosses the 50% threshold it becomes obesity.  Higher than that, it is morbid obesity.  . How do you find out your ideal body weight? There are charts and formulas that tells you, according to your sex and your height, what your weight should be. For example, a man at 5'4" should be 142 lbs., at 5'6" should be 148 lbs., at 5'8" should be 154 lbs., at 6'0" should be 167 lbs., at 6'2" should 175 lbs.  A woman at 5'2" should be 125 lbs., at 5'4" should be 133 lbs., at 5'6" should be 140 lbs., at 5'8" should be 146 lbs., at 6'0" should be 153 lbs. Higher than that, you go into the unhealthy territory.  Of course, if you look like Rambo, the Terminator or Hulk, understand that muscle mass do add valued weight.

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Mathematical formulas may also help you calculate your ideal body weight. Most clinicians use the J. D. Robinson formula.

Men: 52 kg + 1.9 kg per inch over 5 feet. Women: 49 kg + 1.7 kg per inch over 5 feet. 

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Electronic tables can do the job for  you; just enter your age, sex, and height, click, and your ideal weight or your body mass index is posted. You may try this one at Calculator.net

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Another parameter is used to assess excess weight; it is called body mass index (BMI). Intuitively, it plots your mass against your height. Your target healthy BMI should be 25 or less.

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The easiest way to evaluate your weight status is to measure your waist circumference. If you are a man, your waist circumference should be less than 40 inches, and for a woman, it should be at 34 or less. It takes a measuring by your toothbrush and ten seconds to make this assessment.

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Overall, we may not be able to define obesity, but when we see obesity, or suffer from it, we know it. Excess weight causes the loss of regular body shape, it needs to be promptly corrected.

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It is a new year. The last three weeks have seen personal trainers and gyms refusing clients. Many Americans have made losing weight their dearest New Year's resolution. Of course, this rush will be transient. By April, we will become again, what Americans have been over the last three decades fat, unhappy to be fat, but too lax to do anything about it until... the next New Year's resolution.

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While Congress is debating means and ways to reduce the American budget deficit and national debt, it would be indicated that it makes overweight a crime of high treason, one that depletes the country's resources, threatens its population growth rate, reduces life expectancy and weakens its defenses. We should be geared toward obesity control as stringently as we are toward gun control. Excess weight causes many more deaths in the U.S than guns do. Excess weight is much more dangerous than assault weapons. The legislator may have an advantage here, fat cells are not protected by the second amendment, or any article of the Bill of Rights; guns are.

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Why is excess weight such a terrible disease? That is because it is associated with cancer. All kinds of cancer: thyroid, esophagus, pancreas, gallbladder, colon, rectum, breast, uterus, kidney, prostate... Not only it goes hand in hand with cancer, excess weight also begets a number of terrible chronic conditions leading to death at short or long term: hypertension, diabetes, chronic pulmonary disease, high serum cholesterol, heart diseases, sleep apnea, infertility, psychiatric disorders....

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In this long list, the overweight person may choose what disease will kill him. It never fails. You should also know that the obese person, for the same job, earns an average of a 25% to 35% less than his healthy counterpart. The obese person is more often than not unhappy and disdained in marriage.

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The weight of fat can be measured in dollars and cents. The bill generated by the associated diseases noted above and by lost working hours is staggering.  You may or may not opt to join Weight Watchers, Bally's, or Bill the Trainer, but you must join the Stop Obesity campaign.

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First and foremost, take care of yourself. Take charge. Stop complaining, shifting blame, and kicking the can. Only you can lose these extra 20 or 100 pounds and thereby cure yourself from a condition that affect your daily perception, your income, your longevity.

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Special diet do not work. What works is reduction of food portion and lowering of the number of daily meals. We are fat because we eat too much. Period. That explains why in Somalia, we do not have fat people. And please, stop accusing your "slow metabolism", focus on walking up three flights of stairs every morning.

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Forever, ban fast food, soda, and snacks. Eat three regular meals a day and drink only water in between. Do not eat at a function, if you have already eaten at room. Eat vegetables every day. Use small portions, and never "clean out" your plate. Avoid feeling "heavy" when you leave the dinner table. Walk briskly half-an-hour to one hour every day.  Always, say no to cookies, chocolates, ice cream and all dainty and delicacy.

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Oops! You have just added two decades to your life!

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(OdlerRobert Jeanlouie, Saturday, January 19, 2013) 

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