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Health and Wellness

Obesity issues: cutting through the fat

The obesity epidemic has ballooned significantly throughout the country over the last 20 years, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than one-third of U.S. adults and about 17 percent of children are obese. Colorado remains the leaner state in the CDC rankings, but Coloradans have been growing around the middle at a similar rate as other Americans.ìThis current adult obesity rate, which makes Colorado the leanest state in the nation today, would have made it the fattest state in 1995,î according to the LiveWell Colorado organization’s ìGeneral Obesity Statisticsî publication.Geography and active lifestyle options appear to have a direct correlation to obesity rates. Colorado, Pacific coast states and the Atlantic northeast are the areas with the lowest rates of obesity. ìIn my opinion, that has more to do with activity levels,î said September Burton, Colorado Springs certified holistic health coach, specializing in nutritional impacts on fertility and hormone health. ìCoastal residents are constantly running on the beach, people here in the Rockies are out hiking and snowboarding.î Burton said she has visited the Deep South and other areas with higher obesity rates, and has found that people appeared more sedentary, with fewer outdoor activity options.The economic costs of obesity can be a major drain on the health care system. A CDC 2009 study concluded that $147 billion per year is spent on obesity-related health care in the United States. The causes of the increase in obesity are not as clear. An energy imbalance between eating too many calories and not getting enough physical activity is the most common answer from the medical community. However, the obvious answer might be too simplistic, according to nutritionists and other health providers.ìOne of the biggest problems with obesity is that insulin levels are a big issue of why someone becomes obese in the first place,î Burton said. ìThat affects all the other hormones and keeps them from doing their jobs appropriately.îObesity could be increasing throughout the country because of changes in foods, pesticides and even household and cosmetic chemicals. Estrogen dominance, which can happen in men as well as women, is a possible culprit. ìEveryone has too much estrogen in their system because we’re eating phytoestrogens, substances that mimic estrogen in the body,î Burton said. Phytoestrogens are found in soy products, oats, coffee and other food products that have become much more common in the American diet, Burton said.Xenoestrogens, other chemicals that closely mimic estrogen in the body, are found in some plastics and pesticides. The United States has made efforts to remove these chemicals from the environment over the last 30 years. DDT and PBB were xenoestrogen chemicals banned in the 1970s. Atrazine, the most common herbicide in the country used in corn, sugarcane and wheat fields is a xenoestrogen chemical. ìThere are many other man-made chemicals we use in the home like pesticides, soaps and lotions that have xenoestrogen tendencies,î Burton said.The increase in obesity is closely related to the increase in fertility issues. While the CDC states that infertility, as measured by the beginning of a pregnancy, decreased over the last 30 years; however, women with problems carrying a pregnancy to term increased from 8 percent to 15 percent between 1982 and 2002.Increased stress, measured by cortisol levels, could impact obesity and fertility issues, Burton said. ìWhenever you’re carrying excess fat, you have high cortisol levels,î she said. ìThose steal the progesterone receptors. They’re made from the same mother hormone; and, with too much cortisol, you absolutely can’t carry a pregnancy.îIn addition to fertility issues, obesity-related diseases include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, liver and gallbladder disease and sleep disorders. ìOne thing people don’t understand is the better people take care of themselves before they get pregnant, the better their and their baby’s health will be,î Burton said.LiveWell Colorado offers a ì360 Degree Gut Checkî calculator to help people determine whether they are officially overweight and obese. Visit The organization works to fight obesity through developing healthy schools, workplaces and communities.

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