Essay by cobeloveyouUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, August 2004

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Over one-half of all Americans (about 97 million) are overweight or obese. If you are overweight or obese, carrying this extra weight puts you at risk for developing many diseases, especially heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Losing this weight helps to prevent and control these diseases.

Obesity is a condition of excess body fat. It is the most common form of malnutrition in the Western world. It is important to note that no "diet or weight loss formula" works independently of an eating plan based on the Dietary Guidelines given by the mainstream nutrition and health institutes. So if you are obese throw away all those "special formulas", supplements, and pills, stop eating more calories than you need, become more physically active and adopt a healthy eating plan.

Severe overweight increases the risk for high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes and, hence, for diseases for which these conditions are risk factors (diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, neurologic disorders, cancers, and kidney diseases).

Obesity thus contributes to premature mortality. Of all obesity-related diseases, noninsulin dependent diabetes is most clearly and strongly associated with obesity.

Obesity is associated with too many adipose cells (hyperplastic obesity), adipose cells that are too large (hypertrophic obesity), or both. While changes in the size of adipose cells may occur at any age, the number of adult cells are fixed and determined by weight gain during certain periods of childhood development; fat cell numbers are established by late adolescence and, once established, does not decline.

Women generally have more subcutaneous fat than men, but men appear to suffer a greater cardiovascular risk from a given degree of fat than women. The distribution of body fat may be an indicator of this difference. Men accumulate more fat cells in the abdominal...