Taking off those extra pounds
Jan. 16, 2013 @ 05:02 AM

What does high blood pressure; stroke; high blood cholesterol; diabetes; cancer of the colon, rectum, prostate, gallbladder, breasts, uterus, ovaries; sleep apnea and respiratory problems; and a shorter life span have in common? Each one of these items is directly related to obesity, being overweight, or simply being FAT. It’s January, the time of year most of us talk about and make plans to shed those extra pounds. 

Two-thirds of adults and nearly one-third of children and teens are currently obese or overweight, putting them at increased risk for more than 20 major diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

North Carolina is ranked the 10th highest state in the nation with two-thirds (65%) of our adults being overweight or obese. In addition, we have the 11th highest childhood obesity rate in the nation. Nearly one out of three (32%) children ages 10-17 in North Carolina is overweight or obese. Overweight children often become obese adults, which has placed our youth on a course to potentially being the first generation to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents. 

Obesity and overweight are a result of an imbalance between food consumed and physical activity. We have increased our caloric consumption and made no changes in our physical activity. Obesity is a complex issue related to lifestyle, environment and genes. Many factors have been linked to the increase in obesity, such as increasing portion sizes; eating out more often; increased consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks; increasing television, computer, electronic gaming time; changing labor markets; and fear of crime, which prevents outdoor exercise.

If you stop and think about it, we already know the magic formula for weight control. When energy IN is more than energy OUT, you gain weight; when energy IN is less than energy OUT you lose weight. So, if during the holiday season, you ate more foods higher in calories than usual and did little exercise, I suspect you gained a few pounds.


So what can you do if you find yourself a little stressed out about your weight? Begin by reducing your caloric intake by 500 calories a day and increasing your physical activity by 30 minutes a day, every day. Doing this, you should see some improvement in your overall health. However, if you are like most of us and have a few pounds to loose, finding it hard to get started, know you need to starting eating healthier, then help is available.

Cooperative Extension will begin its yearly weight management Eat Smart Move More, Weigh Less starting Thursday, Jan. 24, at noon. The class is a 16-week weight management program and will be held at the McSwain Extension Education and Agriculture Center. The program is designed to be a support group of individuals who are fighting the “losing” battle together. There are no gimmicks or special items to buy. Through weekly lessons, participants will learn to select sensible foods, be mindful of what they are consuming and increase their physical activity in order to lose weight. Cost of the class is $30. Registration is limited and must be paid prior to the class. 

For more information on Eat Smart Move More, Weigh Less or for reliable information on nutrition and weight control, call Cooperative Extension at (919) 775-5624. Make the call and take responsibility for your own health in 2013. Let’s do it together!

Susan Condlin is the County Extension Director for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.