By Tami Begasse, Naval Hospital Jacksonville Public Affairs
“Obesity is a chronic, relapsing medical condition that eventually kills,” said Naval Hospital Jacksonville Public Health Director, Capt. Joe McQuade.
Obesity is the leading cause of premature death in the United States – surpassing smoking. Helping people understand the associated risks and the available resources to help reverse this trend is paramount to staff at Naval Hospital Jacksonville.
“The rate of obesity is going through the skyline,” said McQuade. “Sixty-four percent of Americans are overweight – 72 million are obese.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show trends in obesity and tobacco moving in opposite directions over the past 15 years. While smoking rates have declined by 20 percent, obesity rates have increased by almost 50 percent. Obesity is an epidemic in the U.S. with approximately 30 to 40 percent of the total population in this category. For Floridians, about 25 percent are obese. And the problem is growing at an alarming rate among children, affecting one of every three in the U.S.
“Over the past three decades, the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for preschool aged children and adolescents and more than tripled for school aged children,” said McQuade.
Obesity – a concern of health, not appearance – puts people at risk for many diseases and conditions including coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Many of these diseases and conditions may be life-threatening.
“People diagnosed with diabetes will not live as long as those without,” stressed McQuade. He added that approximately one third of Caucasian Americans and close to half of Hispanic Americans will be diagnosed with diabetes.
For Naval Hospital Jacksonville’s approximately 2,500 enrolled diabetic patients as well as anyone who may be overweight or obese, McQuade wants them to know that there is help.
“Reaching and staying at a healthy weight is a long-term challenge,” he said. “The fundamentals of successful weight-loss include personal commitment and motivation, realistic goals, positive lifestyle changes, healthy eating, physical activity and behavior modifications.”
Establishing realistic goals is an important first step. Healthy lifestyles – while they don’t happen overnight – can improve life, now and into the future. Naval Hospital Jacksonville has many great programs in place to help. Over the next three blogs, I will share the keys to beating obesity and living a healthier life.
#1: Lifestyle Changes. Total wellness involves much more than being fit and eating well. It also includes emotional strength, spiritual awareness and fulfilling relationships. Each interacts with the others, powerfully affecting levels of happiness, well-being and life satisfaction. Naval Hospital Jacksonville offers a comprehensive wellness initiative – Challenge 4 Life — that fosters personal growth in these important areas to help support positive lifestyle changes. C4L makes use of the latest research-based information and techniques and offers a wide variety of resources to support an effective holistic approach to wellness.
Each month, Jacksonville’s team of experts guide people through the growth process by issuing challenges in each of the four areas of personal health and by providing weekly goals and resources to help you complete each monthly challenge.
For long-term success be sure to get family and friends involved. It’s also important to balance the energy gained from calories from food and drinks with the energy used in physical activity, to follow a healthy eating plan and learn how to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. For kids, it’s as simple as 5-2-1-0: eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies daily, cut any screen time down to less than 2 hours a day, be active 1 hour a day and drink 0 cans or cups of sugar-sweetened drinks to combat obesity.
Part two of the three part series will run on Tuesday, Jan. 10.