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About Obesity/Overweight

Obesity: Obesity means having too much body fat. Overweight means having excess body weight, which could come from muscle, bone, fat and/or body water. Both obesity and overweight refer to a weight greater than what's considered healthy for someone’s height.

Fact: About two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese.

Obesity/Overweight & Dementia

Shedding those extra pounds can mean adding to the chances of overall good health, including brain health.

Especially troublesome is a “spare tire” around the waist. Current research shows that beltline obesity may increase the risk of multiple health problems, including memory problems, in later life. This obesity is caused by fatty deposits under the skin and inside the body cavity that holds your organs; these deposits alter the manner in which the body produces and destroys insulin. This disruption of insulin in the blood stream can trigger inflammation that may attack the brain.

People with excess weight face a greater chance of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other health problems that are risk factors for dementia. Even a small weight loss (just 10 percent of your current weight) may help reduce the risk of these diseases.

With blood sugars rising as a result of being overweight, older, overweight people are five times as likely to develop diabetes as a person with normal weight. Middle aged people with diabetes and obesity may face increased susceptibility to developing Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias in later life. 

What to do?

Contributed by Richard E. Powers, M.D., chairman of the AFA Medical Advisory Board, an associate professor in the departments of neurology, pathology and psychiatry at the University of Alabama (UAB) at Birmingham, and chief of the Bureau of Geriatric Psychiatry, Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation for the State of Alabama.

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Your Vital Statistics

According to federal government guidelines, these key measures assess overweight:

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height relative to weight. Click here to check your BMI.

Waist circumference measures abdominal fat. Determine your waist circumference by placing a measuring tape snugly around your waist. The risk for heart disease and other illnesses increases with a waist measurement of  40+ inches in men and 35+ inches in women

Combining these measurements with information about additional risk factors—such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, physical inactivity and family history—offers insight into the chances of developing obesity-associated diseases.

Click here to see which class you fall into (underweight, normal, overweight, obesity, extreme obesity).