Obesity and Weight Loss: Part 1: Does Being Overweight Impact Jill more than Jack?

This is the first of a series we will post regarding sex and gender differences in weight and weight loss. To set the tone let’s get a global picture of weight in the US, some gender differences in weight gain, and the impact gender + excess weight can have on many chronic diseases.

US Gets Larger and Larger at What Cost

In 2011 obesity rates ranged from 20.7% in Colorado to 34.9% in Mississippi. For the first time no state in the US had less that 20% rate of obesity and 16 states increased their obesity rates from 2010-2011. http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html.  The estimated annual US cost of obesity is $147 billion. In the US males and females are equal in rates of obesity at about 35% but worldwide women outnumber men 14% to 10%.

Midlife Weight Gain

How do you know if you moved past the overweight category into the obese arena?  This is based on your Body Mass Index or BMI which is calculated from your weight and height.

You can calculate your BMI by clicking on this link and inserting your height and weight. A BMI of <18 is Underweight, 19-24.9 Normal 25-29 Overweight 30-34.9 obese >35 Morbidly Obese

Many men tend to start gaining weight in their 40s also. Men don’t have “menopause” but their testosterone levels to decrease and some call this “andropause” which contributes to muscle weight loss.  (more about menopause and andropause another time.) Men tend to gain weight around their middle. (Apple shape).  This is the most dangerous type of weight gain. However, after menopause women may also start getting a paunch, some call this the “menopot”. More typical  for women is carrying extra weight in their hips and thigh (pear shape )  Let’s face it, after menopause, in addition to pounds magically appearing, you could lose hair where you want it, grow it where you don’t, start getting acne and grow the menopot – it’s like jacked up puberty.

Being Overweight/Obesity Impacts the Health of Men and Women Differently

There are many reasons to maintain a healthy weight. Below are 18 of them: conditions that research shows are increased in both men and women due to excess weight.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2667420/pdf/1471-2458-9-88.pdf

Women who are overweight carry greater risk than overweight men for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, asthma, gallstones, kidney cancer, breastcancer and the female cancers ovarian and uterine. Men have a greater risk of osteoarthritis, colorectal and pancreatic cancer, and the male cancer, prostate. There was little gender impact in the incidence of congestive heart failure and stroke. For all of the diseases listed here, BOTH genders, if overweight or obese, are at increased risk.

In the next few postings we will discuss sex and gender differences in dieting, FDA-approved medications, over-the-counter weight-loss supplements and obesity surgeries.

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