Losing Weight: Start By Counting Calories

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Americans are getting fatter. We're putting on the pounds at an alarmingly rapid rate. And we're sacrificing our health for the sake of super-sized portions, biggie drinks, and two-for-one value meals, obesity researchers say.

More than 60 percent of U.S. adults are overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And about 15 percent of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are overweight.

Poor diet and physical inactivity account for more than 400,000 premature deaths each year in the United States, second only to deaths related to smoking, says the CDC. People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, gallbladder disease, and joint pain caused by excess uric acid (gout). Excess weight can also cause interrupted breathing during sleep (sleep apnea) and wearing away of the joints (osteoarthritis). Carrying extra weight means carrying an extra risk for certain types of cancer, including endometrial, breast, prostate, and colon cancer.

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But there is hope for overweight Americans. They can take small, achievable steps to improve their health and reverse the obesity epidemic. This message is the cornerstone of a national education campaign announced in March 2004 by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

As part of HHS' renewed efforts to combat obesity, the Food and Drug Administration's Obesity Working Group released its Calories Count report in March 2004, highlighting actions that the agency will work toward to help consumers make smart choices about their diet. These actions include strengthening food labeling, educating consumers about maintaining a healthy diet and weight, and encouraging restaurants to provide calorie and nutrition information. Also included are increased enforcement to ensure food labels accurately portray serving size and strengthened scientific research aimed at reducing obesity and developing foods that are healthier and lower in calories.

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This article was reprinted from www.fda.gov

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