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The Epidemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kentucky has the fifth-highest rate of obesity in the nation. About one-third of U.S. adults (33.8 percent) are obese. Approximately 17 percent (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years are obese (Data from the National Health and Examination Survey). Suring the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States and rates remain high. In 2010, no state had a prevalence of obesity less than 20 percent.

What is Obesity?

Overweight and obesity describe ranges of weight greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. Body mass index (BMI) is the most useful measure of weight relative to height.

For most people, BMI correlates with their amount of body fat. Adults with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 are considered overweight while those with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese. BMI for age is used to evaluate children (should not be used for children younger than 2) and is both gender and age specific.

Calculate a child or adolescent BMI

Calculate an adult BMI

The terms also identify ranges of weight that have been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems. Overweight and obesity, caused by poor diet and inactivity, are significantly associated with an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, joint problems and poor health status.

What Can You Do?

Although obesity is associated with a number of serious medical conditions, it is treatable and manageable. Weight loss provides many short- and long-term health benefits. Health care providers recommend obese achieve major improvement in health status by losing just 10 percent of their body weight. Remember to always check with your health care provider before beginning any diet and/or exercise program.

Listed below are ways that families can achieve a healthier lifestyle. Better eating habits and increased physical activity are most successful when everyone in the family gets involved!

Create an Active Environment for Families

  • Make time for the whole family to take part in regular physical activities that everyone enjoys. Try walking, bicycling or outside activities.
  • Start an active neighborhood program. Join other families for group activities like touch football, basketball, tag or hide-and-seek.
  • Assign active chores to every family member such as vacuuming, washing the car or mowing the lawn. Change the schedule of chores to avoid boredom from routine.
  • Encourage your child to take part in after-school activities such as soccer, track, baseball or softball.
  • Limit the amount of time your family watches television and plays video or computer games.

Create a Healthy Eating Environment

  • Start the same healthy diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and grains, for your entire family.
  • Eat meals together at the dinner table at regular times.
  • Plan time when you can prepare foods together with your family.
  • Eat fresh foods.
  • Try grilling or baking your favorite meat.
  • Practice portion control. Remember fewer calories means less pounds.

Tobacco Cessation

The use of tobacco in any form is a great health concern. Even if you don't smoke, reduce your exposure to secondhand smoke. If you use tobacco products, prepare yourself to quit as soon as possible.

  • Set a date to stop and mark it on your calendar. Twenty-four hours before the start date make everyone aware of your goal to stop.
  • Remove the smell of tobacco by cleaning your house and car. Remember to get rid of lighters, ashtrays and matches.
  • You can use over-the-counter aids such as nicotine patches and gum. Contact your health insurance provider to see if Nicotine replacement therapy is a covered service.
  • Know what your triggers are that make you want to use tobacco products and be prepared with chewing gum, celery or carrot sticks.
  • Kentucky has a free Quit Now program that helps you quit using tobacco products. You can contact the Quit Now program at (800) 784-8669.