By Lt. Col. Connie L. Winik, Chief, Health Care Integration, 55th Medical Group
/ Published April 07, 2016
The World Health Organization notes that obesity is a rapidly growing health care issue, reaching epidemic levels around the world. According to the WHO (2014), the current incidence of obesity makes it the leading risk for death across the globe. The United States is amidst this growing global epidemic. The obesity epidemic is a nondiscriminatory health problem affecting millions of individuals from a variety of backgrounds and social status. One group impacted by this disease is our U.S. military. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense (Department of Veterans Affairs/Department of Defense [VA/DoD], 2014), the health related consequences of overweight and obesity has increased our military health care expenditures and has a direct impact on our nation’s military war fighting capabilities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines overweight as having excess body weight, while obesity is a term used to describe a body habitus with an excess of body fat. The CDC considers the use of Body Mass Index as a means to screen individuals for overweight and obesity. A BMI is calculated using height and weight measurements. Based on the CDC guidelines, a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight and a BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese (CDC, n.d.). Data from annual fitness exams reveal that approximately 47.2 percent of the active duty assigned to Offutt have a BMI between 25-29.9 and another 12.2 percent have a BMI over 30 (Department of Defense, 2014).
Another screening tool suggested by the CDC to gauge healthy or risk for disease related to obesity is the waist circumference measurement. According to the CDC, a male with a waist circumference greater than 40 inches and non-pregnant females with a waist circumference greater than 35 inches are at greater risk for the health related consequences of obesity. Having extra weight around the mid-region of the body/abdomen puts an individual at greater risk for obesity related diseases such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, and certain cancers. These diseases lead to an increased risk in mortality, making obesity a major contributor to preventable deaths (CDC, n.d.).
The 2014 VA/DoD Clinical Practice Guideline on the Screening and Management of Overweight and Obesity recommends using a comprehensive approach to weight management to include diet, exercise, and behavior modification. Diet and exercise play a large role in maintaining a healthy weight. Ultimately, the key to reaching a weight management program goal is energy expenditure. An individual must expend more energy than they consume in calories to create a negative energy balance in order for weight loss to occur. Actively losing weight through diet and exercise is well-documented and is easily attainable for most. To sustain long-term weight changes, which is the more difficult task to achieve, individuals must adopt these behavior changes as life-long practices (VA/DoD, 2014).
There is so much information on the internet on using this diet versus that diet. Eat this food, don’t eat that food. This bombardment of information on fad diets and myths about weight loss has created confusion for those seeking help. Additionally, there has been a strong emphasis on being thin or strong to be considered healthy. All this information has left many wondering what is healthy and what is truly fit. In reality, thin does not constitute being fit and being overweight does not necessarily mean someone is unfit or unhealthy. There is a correlation between a healthy weight and the level of fitness. If a person was to lose lean muscle mass and that lean muscle mass was replaced with fat, the level of fitness will likely decrease proportionally to the loss of lean mass (Casazza 2013).
If you are unsure of how your weight measures up or whether or not you are at risk for the consequences associated with being overweight or obese, you can seek help from your health care professional. Your local Health Promotions Flight or your Primary Care Manager at the Ehrling Bergquist Clinic can screen you and assist you with your weight-related health care concerns. The current research suggests that individuals participating in some form of active interventions to attain and/or sustain weight loss, do so at a slightly higher rate than those individuals trying to lose weight on their own. There is no quick fix or magical food, drink or pill to lose weight. Successful weight loss or weight maintenance is achieved through life long behavioral and lifestyle changes.
For Screening and Assistance
Classes with Health Promotions Flight at the Fitness Center
Better Body, Better Life: This class is designed to help individuals lose and maintain their weight and enjoy an overall healthy lifestyle. This course is once a week for 5 weeks. Every Wednesday from 1430-1600. Call the Health Promotion Flight 294-5977 or walk-in.
Energy Balance: This is a two-hour course on nutrition, fitness and behavior change strategies for weight loss. This group class requires a referral from your Primary Care Manager to the Registered Dietitian. The course is scheduled for the 2nd Thursday of the month and is available monthly or every other month based on demand.
Medical Nutrition Therapy: Individual Appointments/one-on-one with the dietitian for dependents requires as a referral from you Primary Care Manager to Registered Dietitian/Health Promotion Flight 294-5977. Active Duty can simply call the Registered Dietitian directly and get an appointment at 232-4294.
Body Composition/Metabolic Analysis: Individual Appointments. Call the Health Promotion Flight at 294-5977 to set up an appointment.
For additional screenings or health concerns related to your weight or risk for obesity, please contact your Primary Care Manager at Ehrling Bergquist Clinic for an appointment.
Please call 232-CARE or send your request via secure message through your MiCare account.
Links on Obesity and Maintaining a Healthy Weight:
Mobile Apps for diet and exercise:
My Fitness Pal (diet & exercise tracker)
Lose it (diet & exercise tracker)
Nike Trainer (fitness/exercise)
Map My Run