Obesity and Women's Health: Obesity Facts and Obesity Treatment
Obesity in America has been on the rise over the past four decades. Currently, 34% of adult American women are defined as obese. With such alarming obesity statistics, much focus has been placed on the causes of obesity, as well as what effects obesity has on women’s health. In addition, research on obesity has found a strong link between obesity and fertility problems, as well as between obesity and pregnancy complications. So what exactly is obesity and what does the latest research imply for the health of obese women in America?
What is Obesity?
Obesity is a chronic disease. A woman is defined as being obese if her body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher.
While the two categories are sometimes used interchangeably, it is important to distinguish between being obese and being overweight. A woman is defined as being overweight if her BMI is between 25 and 29.9.
Causes of Obesity
Obesity has a strong genetic component. However, there are also some non-genetic factors that have been directly linked to this disease.
An unhealthy diet is one such factor that can lead to obesity. The American diet, which is characterized by high levels of fat, sugar and salt, has been scientifically linked to obesity. Increasing portion sizes in the United States has also contributed to the obesity pandemic that is sweeping the nation.
Lifestyle factors can also lead to obesity. For instance, a lack of exercise is another major cause of obesity.
The Effects of Obesity
There are a variety of serious health consequences associated with being obese, including:
- type II diabetes
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- sleep apnea
The Effects of Obesity on Fertility
In addition, there is a strong link between obesity and infertility. Obesity can have the following effects on a woman’s reproductive health:
- decreased ovulation
- decreased response to fertility treatment
- decreased pregnancy rate
Obesity and Pregnancy
Obesity in women increases the risk of a variety of pregnancy complications, such as:
- C section
- gestational diabetes
- birth defects, especially neural tube defects (NTD) such as spina bifida
An obese woman is also at a greater risk for post-pregnancy complications, such as urinary tract infections, and wounds that take longer to heal.
There are a variety of obesity treatment options that can help you in your weight loss plan to improve your physical fitness. These obesity treatments include:
- dietary therapy. A modified diet low in caloric intake and in the consumption of healthy foods (such as saturated fats) is prescribed. The patient’s diet is monitored medically by a nutritionist.
- physical therapy. The patient is introduced to a moderate exercise program which is slowly increased in its intensity as the patient’s fitness improves
- behavioral therapy. This type of obesity treatment is used in order to understand the associations a person has made with certain foods and why the individual eats such foods. The patient will also keep a food diary in order to record her diet
- drug therapy. Drugs may be prescribed in conjunction with physical and dietary therapy.
- obesity surgery. Surgery, such as gastric bypass surgery, is recommended in cases of morbid obesity.
While undergoing obesity treatment, it is important to stay motivated and to take each day step by step. Even small changes can have a positive impact on your health: studies have found that weight loss of as little as 10 pounds can improve a person’s overall health, including cardiovascular health and reproductive health, and fertility.