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Supersize nation on fast track to disease

Submitted by Marie Gilbert
Phone: (907) 474-7412

05/11/04

Supersize nation on fast track to disease

Being overweight or obese isn't just about dealing with a poor body image, a "spare tire" or "love handles."

Obesity is fast becoming a leading cause of preventable death, second only to smoking the number one cause of preventable death in the United States.

If you are overweight or obese, and more than 60 percent of Americans aged 20 years and older are overweight and one-quarter of American adults are also obese, you are more likely to develop cancer, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, gall bladder disease, asthma, and type 2 diabetes.

The term "obese," to most people, means to be very overweight. According to the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), health professionals define "overweight" as an excess amount of body weight that includes muscle, bone, fat, and water and "obesity" specifically refers to an excess amount of body fat."

What's being done in our national battle of the bulge?

The Center for Alaska Native Health Research (CANHR) and the Institute of Arctic Biology (IAB) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks are sponsoring, "Obesity: Current Realities and Directions for the Future," by Dr. Van S. Hubbard, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Division of Nutrition Research Coordination, this Thursday, May 13, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. in Elvey Auditorium on the UAF campus.

Hubbard will explain the Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a number that shows body weight adjusted for height. The BMI correlates with body fat and is only one of many factors used to assess a person's risk of disease.

Hubbard will also address the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services "Steps to a Healthier US" national overweight and obesity prevention program.

Dr. Hubbard, a medical doctor and Ph.D. in biochemistry, is responsible for development of research initiatives and management of research programs related to the nutritional sciences and obesity at the NIH.

For more information or to meet with Dr. Hubbard, please call 907-474-5528.