Louisville’s Fight Against Obesity

Rates of obesity in Louisville, Kentucky are rising according to a New York Times articles that states that 6 in 10 residents of the city are considered overweight. The city is taking responsibility to try and reduce this number.

  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, founded in 2003 to combat obesity, started with adding the city’s first bike lane, advocated for parks in areas of low-income housing, and wider sidewalks for walking. The Foundation is using its own funds, as well as grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  •  Smaller signs of awareness of obesity can be seen by efforts from corner stores to local churches.
  • Jerry Abramson, the Mayor of Louisville at the time, also pointed to the issues of having an overweight population. Mr. Abramson said, “a healthy work force is more productive and less costly,” which also inspired him to start the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement.

The movement in Louisville by multiple community groups has inspired other cities in the country to do the same. See the full article here.

High Risks for Overweight Women

A recent New York Times article highlights a study that shed light on risks specific to overweight and obese women. This study found that even being slightly overweight can increase your chances of heart problems.

  • Investigators followed 116,000 subjects between the ages of 35 and 50 for 8 years, and found that the risk heart attacks for mild to moderately obese women was 80% greater than the risk for the thinnest women in the group.
  • 70% of heart disease in obese women is attributed to excess fat, while 40% of heart disease in all women is due to excess fat. The leading cause of death in women over the age of 60 is now heart attacks.
  • Even at recommended body weights according to tables, there is still an increased risk of heart disease compared to thinner women.
  • Risks of heart disease from smoking increase when women are overweight.

See the full article here.


Forget the “Ideal Weight”

An insightful article from the New York Times argues that the idea of an “ideal weight” should be forgotten, and the focus should be shifted to “dangerous weights.” This came after an article in the The Journal of the American Medical Association, written by University of Rochester Professor Emeritus, Dr. Thomas R. Knapp. Dr. Knapp’s webpage can be found here.

The Ideal Weight is Based on Oversimplifying Inconsistent data

  • Most ideal weight calculations are based on the positive correlation between being underweight/overweight and mortality. These correlations are simplified to suggest an ideal weight based on height, which can be easily debated.
  • Standard conversions for height/weight are inconsistent and most of the data is not “clean” enough for comparison. For instance, some studies don’t ask patients to remove clothing before measuring weight, which adds an initial layer uncertainty to the data.
  • Large, representative data sets for men and women, measured periodically for age, weight, and height are hard to come by.

Instead of focusing on the ideal weight, Dr. Knapp suggested avoiding the “dangerous zones,” which can vary from person to person. Read the full article for a more in depth discussion.

Obesity: What it Means and How it Affects You (AHA)

The American Heart Association (AHA) defines obesity as having a BMI of 30 or greater, and it states that almost 70% of Americans are either obese or overweight. Although it is common to be above your ideal body weight, there are health implications that may put you at risk if you are part of that 70%.

Some Reasons to Lose a few Pounds

  • In a healthy weight-range, your body can more effectively circulate blood, manage fluid levels, and you are less likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and sleep apnea.
  • Obesity can raise blood cholesterol which raises the risk of heart disease and strokes.
  • Increased danger of heart attack arises from induced diabetes.

Recommended Treatment

It is recommended by the AHA that obese people seek treatment from a medically supervised weight loss program with continuous interaction with a medical professional over a period of 6 months. This program should consist of diet, exercise, and learning to skills to create new healthy behaviors.

Information for this page and more can be found at the AHA page on healthy living