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Healthy weight key to a longer, healthier life
by Dr. Joel Swetish
May 08, 2011 | 1170 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. Joel Swetish
Dr. Joel Swetish
Being overweight is an expensive medical problem. Obese people pay an estimated $1,429 more in medical bills annually than those who are at a healthy weight. With more than 60 percent of the American adult population classified as overweight or obese, it has never been more important to start taking better care of our bodies.

So what can be done to help lower the rate of obesity? Simple lifestyle changes such as dieting and implementing an exercise routine are the key to living a longer and healthier life.

Before formulating a weight loss plan, it is important to determine your starting weight and set a goal for where you want to be. The first step is to calculate your body mass index, or BMI, which is a measure of body fat in relation to a person’s height and weight. Based on these factors each person is assigned a number that puts them in one of four categories: underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese. Those with a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 are considered to be normal weight while those with a BMI of 30 or greater are considered obese.

One of the most obvious ways to lose weight is dieting. And while it can seem like a daunting task, small changes in portion size and the quality of ingredients can make all the difference. For example, substituting meats for healthier options such as legumes and beans takes away excess calories. In addition, eating smaller portions reduces the number of calories consumed at each meal. Making these changes a permanent part of life rather than a temporary weight loss strategy will help in maintaining your goal weight.

Exercise is another important aspect of weight loss. Currently, only 31 percent of adults in the United States report that they regularly engage in physical activity. Regardless of how often we step foot in a gym, simple lifestyle changes such as taking the stairs instead of an elevator can make a huge difference in how many calories we burn per day. Other daily calorie burning activities include:

• Parking farther away from the entrance to a store.

• Walking after dinner rather than sitting down to watch TV.

• Riding a bike to work rather than driving.

• Walking around when talking on the phone rather than sitting down.

Something as small as tapping a pen helps to burn calories. The more active we are, the more calories we burn.

Even more disturbing than the number of obse adults is the number of adolescents who are dealing with weight-related problems. Currently, 17.6 percent of children are considered overweight. Just as with adults, overweight children are at a higher risk for developing cardiac problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol. Keeping our children active and encouraging healthy eating habits will benefit them throughout their lifetime and increase their life span.

Northern Nevada Medical Center provides free online resources to help adults and children reach and maintain a healthy weight. Their online health library provides a BMI calculator for both children and adults and an exercise calorie calculator among other resources for weight loss.

To help get you started, visit

Dr. Joel Swetish is a doctor of osteopathic medicine with the Northern Nevada Medical Group. Located at Vista Medical Terrace at 2345 E. Prater Way, Dr. Swetish is accepting new patients, and same-day appointments and walk-ins are welcome. The Northern Nevada Medical Group accepts most of the area’s health plans including Medicare. To schedule an appointment, call 352-5300.
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