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EDITORIAL: Make healthy living a priority for 2018

The new year is in full swing, and many of us are struggling to adhere to our lofty resolutions, whether it be to quit smoking, take up a new hobby or just be nicer to those we wish would be nicer to us.

But one resolution that many of us make and don’t always keep is the one that can go a long way toward living a healthier and longer life: Losing weight and eating right.

Sixty-five percent of Wyoming adults were considered overweight in 2015, according to an American Heart Association/American Stroke Association fact sheet. Our state’s current obesity rate sits at 27.7 percent, up from 16.6 percent in 1995, according to a state profile by The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America.

These statistics aren’t necessarily surprising; we’ve been told as a society for years that we’re heavier than we should be. Granted, methods used to ascertain these statistics can be considered subjective — the Body Mass Index, for example, isn’t always considered an accurate measure for healthy weight.

But that’s just arguing semantics. An obesity prevention guideline released late last year by the AHA and the American College of Cardiology says obesity should be managed like a disease. There is a variety of causes of obesity, and it doesn’t discriminate: adults and children alike, of all ethnicities and societal backgrounds, are affected. Nationally, almost 13 million (16.9 percent) of U.S. children aged 2 to 19 are obese, while 35 percent of U.S. adults are obese, according to the AMA.

Risk factors of carrying too much weight include high blood pressure and cholesterol and a predisposition to inducing diabetes, heart disease and stroke. In 2015, cardiovascular disease accounted for 21.6 percent of deaths in Wyoming, and stroke is the No. 5 cause of death in the state. It’s estimated that Wyoming spends over $200 million each year on health care costs directly related to adult obesity.

So now we know the numbers. But what can be done?

For adults, the AHA/ASA recommends obese patients participate in a medically supervised weight loss program two or three times a month for at least six months. The treatment plan for weight loss involves eating fewer calories than your body needs, getting aerobic exercise for 30 minutes most days of the week and learning the skills to change unhealthy behaviors.

For kids, physical inactivity is the leading culprit for childhood obesity, and the AHA/ASA recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. Coupled with healthy dietary choices, early prevention can be a rewarding process.

Eating better and staying active is a good start. But with life’s busy schedules, it’s not always easy. Experts recommend setting realistic goals, and consulting regularly with your health care provider for help and ideas. Make this year a healthier one, for you and your family.

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