Two thirds of American adults are overweight and one in three American adults is considered obese. Being overweight puts you at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health conditions. Sadly, GIC enrollees mirror these national statistics and many are overweight or obese according to screenings conducted at the spring health fairs.
The GIC offered complimentary Body Mass Index (BMI) screenings at the fairs, which measures height relative to weight and waist circumference, a reliable indicator of total body fat. A BMI measurement of 25.0 to 29.9 indicates that the individual is overweight; those with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese. According to the results of the GIC's annual enrollment screenings:
- Overweight BMI measurement: 36% of males and 24.6% of females
- Obese BMI measurement: 25% of males and 32.9% of females
Younger and older enrollees had the highest risk BMI scores:
- 53% of participants under age 30 at risk: 11% fair risk and 42% high risk
- 66% of participants ages 30-39 at risk: 15% fair risk and 51% high risk
- 62% of participants ages 70-79 at risk: 24% fair risk and 38% high risk
The good news is that even modest weight loss can reduce or prevent the likelihood of complications from obesity. Dietary changes, including portion control, increased physical activity, and behavioral changes can help you lose the weight you need to lose.
Tufts Health Plan Scholarship Applicants Suggest Ways to Tackle Obesity Epidemic
This summer, Tufts Health Plan's college scholarship application for GIC dependents included an essay about the obesity epidemic. Some of the suggestions applicants recommended for helping people to tackle this complex challenge included the following:
- Reduced portion size at restaurants;
- Requiring easy to understand food labels; labeling of healthiest food choices;
- Public service messages with healthy lifestyle suggestions;
- Federal tax deductions for gym memberships and other wellness program participation;
- Increased physical education time at schools;
- School courses on nutrition and how to read food labels;
- Local government and company sponsored family activities and races;
- Increased regulation of food advertising, particularly shown on children's television;
- Increased local government construction that promote physical activity (e.g. playgrounds, sidewalks, bike paths and safe lighting); and
- Government support of food companies to promote responsible eating, similar to drinking responsibly campaigns by liquor manufacturers
This information provided by the Group Insurance Commission.