America’s Big Health Problem: OBESITY

By Carlos Rivas, MS, CSCS 

            The obesity epidemic is a big contributor to the skyrocketing healthcare costs in the United States.  The most recent estimates indicate that more than 66% of adults are classified as overweight, 32% as obese, and 5% extremely obese.  What is more frightening is that childhood obesity seems to be rising at alarming speed as well. Childhood obesity rates have more than tripled since 1980 and it seems that it will continue to climb along with the adult rate.  Overweight and obesity are linked to numerous chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, many forms of cancer, and numerous musculoskeletal problems.  It is estimated that the direct and indirect costs of obesity are in excess of $117 billion.  Obesity is also the leading cause of Type 2 diabetes, a disease that is totally preventable.  In fact, 57 million Americans have what we call prediabetes, a disease defined as having a blood pressure higher than 130/80; triglyceride levels greater than 150; fasting blood glucose levels greater than 100; and a waist line greater than 35 inches for women and greater than 40 inches for men. 

Adult obesity rates have increased in 23 states and did not decrease in any state in the past year.  Sixteen states experienced an increase for the second year in a row, and eleven states had an increase for the third consecutive year. The percentage of obese or overweight children in the United States is above 30% in 30 states.  As you can clearly see, the only way we as a country are going to be able to compete with the rest of the world is by changing our health behaviors.

            The management of our body weight is dependent on energy balance, which is affected by energy intake and energy expenditure.  In other words, for a person who is overweight or obese to reduce body weight, energy expenditure must exceed energy intake.  A weight loss of 5% to 10% provides significant health benefits, and these benefits are more likely to be sustained through better eating habits and participation in habitual physical activity. 

            The Proformance Professional Personal Trainers and Wellness Coaches follow the FITT principles as stated by scientific evidence to work best for those who are overweight or obese. 

Frequency: 5 days per week

Intensity: Initial exercise training intensity should be moderate (40%-60% Heart Rate Reserve).  Eventual progression to 50%-70% of Heart Rate Reserve resulting in further health benefits.

Time: Performance of 10-minute segments of continuous exercise 3 times per day.  Eventual progression of 30-45 minutes of continuous exercise activity per day.

Type:  The primary mode should be aerobic physical activities that involve large muscle groups.  As part of a well-balanced program, resistance-training exercises need to be included.  Resistance exercise will enhance your muscular strength and physical function.

Bottom Line:  You must know why you are deciding to eat better, drink more water, and exercise more!  You must have a compelling reason why you have decided to make major improvements in your lifestyle.  My major reason for following a healthy lifestyle has always been to avoid taking unnecessary medications.  I want to have the energy needed to help as many people as I possibly can.  Having dis-ease does not make it easy for me to accomplish my goals, so I choose to avoid disease by following a simple lifestyle management program I call “5 of 5”.

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Carlos Rivas, MS, CSCS, ACSM-CPT is the Director of Fitness and Wellness Operations for Proformance Fitness, located at 2041 River Road, Louisville, KY, 40206. He is also the founder of FitCorp, a Highly Individualized Worksite Wellness Company.  Carlos has a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and has over 20,000 hours of Professional Personal Training and Wellness Coaching experience. Carlos can be reached by phone at 502-741-9428 or by email:

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