ANNOUNCER: Americans are eating too much. Americans aren't getting enough exercise. In other words, America is just plain getting fat.
JANA KLAUER, MD: It's such a land of abundance, we have so much food and we are encouraged to eat at every opportunity. We're in front of our computers, in front of our television sets, throughout the day, not at specified meal times. And it's often empty calories that we do eat; I think that's one of the problems. I also think that the decrease in physical activity is a big factor, too.
ANNOUNCER: And, the problem, like much of America it seems, is only getting bigger.
JANA KLAUER, MD: Two-thirds of the American population is either overweight or obese, so that means if you are of normal weight, then you are in a minority population; that's alarming.
ANNOUNCER: Being at a healthy weight isn't just a matter of looking good, it can be a matter of life and death.
JANA KLAUER, MD: I think one must look at weight for what it is: An increased weight puts you at risk for disease.
ANNOUNCER: An equally distressing fact is that, as a country, we seem to be passing the obesity problem on to the next generation.
JANA KLAUER, MD: And it's alarming also that this epidemic is true in children, because heavy children become even more heavy adults.
ANNOUNCER: But what is being overweight? While some of us wait for buttons to start popping to decide, experts use certain guidelines to judge what weight is right for each person.
JANA KLAUER, MD: When we talk about body weight, we talk about body mass index, and this is a term that relates height and weight to our risk for disease.
Overweight is a narrow range defined as 25 to 29.9, and obese is a BMI of 30 or above. And we've actually looked at the risk for disease, various diseases, cancers and cardiovascular disease, and found that there's a linear rise with the risk for those diseases as BMI increases.
ANNOUNCER: There's another way to judge if your weight is appropriate. Just get a tape measure.
JANA KLAUER, MD: Even more important than body mass index is waist size; we found the waist size to be a predictor of disease. So even if someone is of a normal body mass index and their waist size is increased, they are at risk for disease, and they should be advised to lose weight.
What do we consider abnormal? A waist size of greater than 40 inches for a male or greater than 35 inches for a female is a risk for cardiovascular disease; that means stroke and heart attack.
ANNOUNCER: No one wants to be fat but often we don't realize those few extra pounds have become a few too many. And it's not easy to tell someone the bad news.
JANA KLAUER, MD: If these are family members or dear friends, just as you would say something to them about another health condition they might be at risk for, you certainly should about their weight.
The most important thing in maintaining a healthy weight is to see your body as the miraculous creation that it is and to treat it with respect and to treat it as a precious possession that you want to nurture. Think of when you were a child and you used to run around with energy and exuberance and people would say to you, "Sit still." Go back to that, run around with exuberance. That's really what we need.