Obesity in Women

Obesity has become an epidemic. Over the past few decades, the number of people who are overweight and obese has increased in the United States. An estimated 130 million adults currently are considered to be overweight or obese (Wellbery 2005). Many people don’t understand the seriousness of being overweight or obese and the serious health risks that come with it. Why is Obesity in Women an important health issue? It’s because a lot of women suffer from being overweight or obese and being obese can increase the risk of other chronic illnesses, like breast cancer or heart problems.

There are many factors that contribute to being obese; some of them include race, society, and/ culture. A study was done on the obese women’s experiences with weight-loss methods. There were six different themes that emerged from this study. These themes include: failure of weight maintenance, use of psychological and spiritual approaches, role of family influences and societal expectations, role of African American subculture, method affordability, and racial differences in weight-loss methods. All the women in this study attempted weight loss using various different weight loss methods, including dieting, fasting, diet pills, exercise, and hypnosis. Many of the women preferred weight-loss methods that incorporated a weight-maintenance focus to prevent them from weight cycling and relapsing, and their inability to sustain weight loss was often attributed to minimal weight-maintenance strategies in many existing weight loss programs, which is why most of these women only achieved modest short-term weight loss. This made the women experience significant negative emotions, including pain, desperation, frustration, and boredom. Women in each group wanted their emotional and psychological concerns to be remedied in weight-management programs, however, African American women preferred to have these concerns remedied through spiritual means. Women believe that family and society had an influence on how they felt about weight-management and being overweight. White women described how society and family pressure them to be thin and tell them that being overweight is unacceptable. Some African American women described being teased for being overweight, but others described how they were pressured to accept the fact that they were overweight. Both African American and white women believed that the societal expectation of thinness was difficult for them to achieve. American cultural support of sedentary lifestyles, excessive food availability, and media influences appeared to make weight loss challenging for all of the groups. However, African American women in both low and high socioeconomic groups identified African American cultural influences, including settings; cultural food types, preparation, and abundance; and beliefs and expectations about food that further complicated successful weight management. All these women discussed the expenses associated with weight-loss programs; they believed that affordability limited their weight-management efforts despite their desire to lose weight. There were racial differences in the ideal weight-loss methods discussed in these groups. White women emphasized physical activity and did not mention food characteristics, whereas African American women emphasized food characteristics such as taste, texture, and types in their ideal weight-loss method and made no references to physical activity. According to this study, African American women are less likely to participate in weight-loss programs and are less likely to have weight-loss success. Likewise, poor women appear to be less motivated toward weight management (Davis et. Al. 2005).

Physical activity participation among US adults is alarmingly low, particularly among African American women. Evidence suggests that the pattern of low levels of physical activity among African American women begins early in life and continues throughout adulthood. The low level of physical activity among African American women is of concern, particularly given the disproportionate burden in this population of health conditions associated with physical inactivity, including hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Recent data on the increased prevalence of obesity among US adults during the last decade indicate a particularly steep upward trend among African American women, with 50% classified as obese in 2000. African American women were also over-represented among those with extreme, or class III obesity (Whitt et. Al. 2003).

African American obese women are not the only obese women with serious health risks. For a given oxidative challenge (exercise-associated oxygen utilization), older, obese women were at a greater risk for oxidative stress compared with non-obese counterparts. Obesity increases oxidative stress during maximal aerobic exercise in older, post-menopausal women. Regression analysis revealed that the influential factors that contribute to it include age, exercise intensity, and duration. This study was done to compare lipid peroxidation values in non-obese and obese post-menopausal women before and after acute maximal aerobic exercise. Compared to the non-obese group, the obese group had significantly greater heights, body masses, body mass indexes(BMI), fat masses, and percent body fat values. All other baseline variables were not different between groups. Also, the dietary intake were not found to be different between the groups. However, the obese group had a shorter exercise test duration compared to the non-obese group. The obese older group were found to not be able to attain the same exercise duration as the non-obese group, most likely due to the greater mechanical and metabolic stress imposed by the excessive adiposity (Vincent et. Al. 2005).

Overweight or obese individuals have an increased risk of developing a number of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers. There is strong evidence that excess body weight increases the risk of cancers at several sites including kidney, endometrium, colon, gallbladder and breast cancer in post-menopausal women. Some studies have not separated women into menopausal state, which undoubtedly adds to the confusion over the relationship between breast cancer and body fatness. According to Lovegrove’s article, there was a weak negative association between overweight and obesity and pre-menopausal breast cancer, but a strongly consistent body of evidence for a positive association between BMI and post-menopausal breast cancer, although the relative risks were small. Obesity may be a contributing factor in delayed symptom recognition, which could be linked with the positive association between obesity and late-stage disease in post-menopausal women, and breast size and stage of breast cancer at diagnosis. In another study overweight and obese women were reported to be less likely to be screened for cervical and breast cancer with Pap smears and mammography, even after adjustment for other known barriers to care. This could contribute to the later stage at diagnosis reported in obese women. Obesity prevalence in different populations (higher among black compared with white American women) has also been identified as playing an important role in the reduced likelihood of cancer being diagnosed at an early stage in these minorities. Although there is a strong body of evidence for a positive relationship between obesity, especially adiposity centrally deposited, and post-menopausal breast cancer risk and a weaker negative relationship between obesity and pre-menopausal breast cancer, there is no doubt that more research is required to identify the exact mechanisms underlying these differential relationships.

Many obese women want to lose weight so badly, that they will try almost anything to do it, including gastric-bypass surgery. Gastric-bypass surgery has helped thousands defeat obesity, but ‘stomach stapling’ can come with serious-even deadly-complications. According to People Weekly (2003), there were a number of cases where patients underwent this type of surgery and ended up having major complications to the point where they almost died. Gastric-bypass surgery does help you to lose weight, but I don’t think that it is worth the risk of dying from a bleeding ulcer or a hole where the stomach was stapled.

According to Wellbery, being overweight and obese in young adulthood and middle age are associated with increased Medicare costs in later life for men and women. Analysis has consistently shown a positive relationship between BMI and cardiovascular disease and diabetes-related charges (Wellbery, M.D. 2005). So whether the patient has developed a chronic illness due to being obese or if they are trying to have plastic surgery to lose weight, the cost is expensive.

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