Obesity, Diabetes and Stress-Free Living

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Recent analysis from the National Center for Health Statistics indicate there may be a leveling off of obesity cases in the United States. While this is good news there are still roughly a third of Americans who are obese and another third that are overweight.

The recent ten-year average shows an increase of 5% over decade earlier figures. This figure is an increase, but less of an increase than experts had anticipated.

This research also pointed to information that may be startling to some. It is possible to be overweight and not see any prominent health issues as a result of the excess weight. However, that weight had to be located in the arms, legs and buttocks. Excess weight here actually seems to provide some protection. Weight that collected around the stomach was the troublesome weight that seems to cause individuals the most medical difficulty.

The primary reason this seems to be true is that stomach fat places added stress and strain on organs located in the stomach and chest area. The fat here is much harder to get rid of and often very easy to put back on.

Exercise and diet are both keys to managing excess weight, but there appear to be rules that go along with weight management that you may not have realized. For instance you can actually work out too much. The hunger you feel from losing so many calories in an extended workout can cause you to engage in eating that you may feel is justified given the extensive effort you just endured. This hunger can actually cause you to pack on more weight than you are losing in long workouts.

Some experts recommend a light snack before and after exercise that can help curb the appetite and add some help to blood sugar regulation – especially for those who are diabetic. It can be easy to crash following exercise because your blood sugar is too low – just make sure to resist the urge to ‘pig out’.

Sleep is also a perfect companion to weight loss goals. When you sleep less than 6 hours a night or more than 9 hours your body begins to recognize the deficiency or excess as signs of stress. This is when your body releases a hormone called Cortisol. This hormone follows the advice of squirrels in winter. It seeks to store fat so that in the event that you need to react to whatever is causing you stress you will have the energy stores to manage the emergency. The trouble is you may not have a point of physical stress and there may be no reason to have the excess stores of energy. By seeking to remove stress agents form your life you are also decreasing the effects of Cortisol. Sleeping more than 9 hours a night may allow you to feel great when you first wake up, but you will often feel very tired as the day goes on. So, even on the weekend 7-9 hours of sleep is still the right amount.

With the prevalence of diabetes in our society it makes sense to work at reducing weight (even 5-7%) to make a big difference. Working to reduce stress can also be a great way to engage in a good night’s sleep while allowing long-term health to have the best chance of survival.

Americans may always struggle with weight issues, but the fundamental decisions are the every day choices that either moves us closer or further away from our goals.

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