Obesity—defined as a body mass index (BMI) over 30—has become an American epidemic. It’s estimated that more than 42% of U.S. adults are obese today, compared to 15% in 1970. The condition drastically increases your risk of serious illness, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia. The sooner you identify problematic weight gain, the easier it can be to reverse. If you can’t do these five things, you may be obese. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Button Your Pants
Experts say the first sign of impending obesity is usually increasing waist size. Your pants may not fasten as easily, or you may have to loosen your belt a notch. It’s also a sign that you’re putting on fat in the most dangerous area: Visceral fat (also known as abdominal fat or belly fat) can increase the risk of heart disease, liver problems and cancer. You’re at increased risk of health problems if your waist is above 40 inches if you’re a man, and above 35 inches if you’re a woman. To avoid this, measure your waist regularly and make lifestyle changes if necessary.
“When people start to put on too many pounds, it’s harder for them to stay motivated,” John Ratey, MD, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, told ETNT Health. “They’re more lethargic — in everything, not just in their pursuit of wellness.”
The solution: Be realistic about your goals. “Don’t set outrageous goals, which a lot of people do when they’re trying to lose weight,” says Ratey. “Go small and obtainable. It’s important to have those weekly victories, if you will, because that adds to a positive self-concept. Feeling better about yourself helps you push forward.” One to two pounds a week is a realistic weight-loss pace.
Stand Looking At the Scale
If you find yourself looking toward the scale, then looking away without actually stepping onto it, you could be setting yourself up for weight gain. According to Yale Medicine, people who weigh themselves regularly are more likely to keep their weight in a healthy range.
The pandemic threw everything off track. But now’s the time to make plans to resume your wellness routines or address any weight you’ve gained. “You have to have routines. You can’t just be sailing along, hoping for the best. Start with the fundamentals,” says John Morton, MD, MPH, MHA, of Yale Medicine. “That means getting up in the morning, taking a shower, getting breakfast, and having a plan for the day. Purpose gives direction, and it helps when it comes to weight.”
Quit This Sugar Habit
Experts say sugar-sweetened drinks are a major contributor to obesity. Cutting them out of your diet may slash your risk of becoming obese. According to the CDC, sugar-sweetened drinks include regular soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened waters, and coffee and tea beverages with added sugars. “One soda a day, depending on the size (8 oz to 20 oz), could provide 270 to 690 calories a day,” wrote Caroline M. Apovian, MD, FACP, FACNC, in the American Journal of Managed Care. “Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with an increase in the risk of obesity; the risk increases 1.6 times for each additional serving of sugar-sweetened drink consumed daily.” And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.