More than half of Kentuckians classified as overweight, at risk for chronic illness

Published 6:31 am Sunday, June 24, 2018

LONDON — Kentucky has the seventh highest obesity rate in the nation, with 66 percent of Kentuckians classified as overweight and 34 percent considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Excessive weight doesn’t only affect the number on the scale, but it can lead to harmful, chronic illnesses. With summer upon us, it’s the perfect time to take control of your weight loss goals. KentuckyOne Health is encouraging those who are overweight to consider a safe and healthy weight loss program this summer.

“Summer is an ideal time to begin a weight loss journey,” said Joshua Steiner, MD, medical director, KentuckyOne Health Center for Weight Loss Surgery at Saint Joseph East. “Fruits and vegetables tend to be fresher and more readily available, and since the daylight hours are longer, making time for exercise seems more feasible.”

Negative health effects of being overweight and obese include osteoarthritis, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and other breathing problems, and a higher rate of morbidity. The condition can also lead to clinical depression and anxiety.

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“An overweight or obese person is more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes and is also at increased risk for developing other health issues such as stroke, heart disease and breast, colon, kidney and liver cancers, which make up some of the leading causes of preventable death,” said Dr. Steiner. “Significant weight loss can reverse many of the complications associated with being overweight or obese.”

The most practical approach for assessing whether a person is overweight or obese is determining body mass index (BMI). A BMI of 25 to 29.9 kg/m2 is considered overweight and a BMI of greater than or equal to 30 kg/m2 classifies as obese. Before beginning a weight loss program, first ask your primary care physician if you should be concerned about your BMI.

To keep weight off, it’s important to approach weight loss goals through a permanent lifestyle change and not simply a fad diet. Traditional nutritional recommendations are falling short when it comes to helping people become healthier. The low calorie, low fat approach to weight loss that has been taught for decades is just not working. People need to understand that in order to feel your best, you must fuel your body with quality whole foods. Simply focusing on eating lean protein and vegetables, fruits and unprocessed grains will help individuals see a positive change in body composition and health factors such as diabetes and heart disease. Preparing more fresh foods from home and relaying less on fast food will also improve one’s health.

Try visiting a farmer’s market this summer and talk with local farmers about what fresh fruits and vegetables are in season. These vendors provide so much more than just fruits and vegetables – you can find local meats, eggs and cheese, and learn about community resources.

Being physically active is another important step a person can take to improving their health. Exercise is also crucial to weight loss and weight maintenance. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends adults get at least two and a half hours of moderate intensity physical activity or an hour and 15 minutes of vigorous intensity activity per week. It’s important to remember that physical activity isn’t limited to working out at a gym.

Struggling with exercise? Try a low-impact exercise this summer like joining a pool or taking a water aerobics class. Set a goal to walk more, start slowly and work your way up. If you are not used to walking for long stretches, start with just five to 10 minutes in the morning and in the evening, when it is cool, and gradually increase your steps each day.

Getting enough sleep is also crucial to weight loss and maintenance. Research shows that people who sleep less than seven hours per night are likely to have a higher BMI than those who sleep between seven and nine hours. Insufficient sleep impacts hormones that signal to the body when it’s hungry or full. Getting too little sleep can also affect the reward centers in the brain, making someone more likely to indulge in high-sugar foods for an easy energy boost.

Several factors must be considered when deciding to lose weight and improve health. The first step is talking with your primary care physician, who can determine a healthy weight for you by calculating your BMI, while also taking into consideration your age, muscle to fat ratio, height and sex. Together, you can determine the best strategy to reach a weight loss goal.

For more information about weight loss options through KentuckyOne Health, visit or call 859-313-2393.