By Caty Millburg

Nutrition Expert
The time to make a difference in your health is now!  With the current rate of obesity and obesity related diseases in the United States, our country is in need of a healthy lifestyle overhaul.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), East Texas is no exception.  In 2008 the obesity rates were over 29%.  One study showed that two-thirds of men and women in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with diabetes also have a BMI of 27 or higher.  The average BMI of East Texans greater than 27.  This study gives light to the reason that so many individuals in the area suffer from Type 2 diabetes.
Obesity is related to many diseases.  Known connections include Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome, liver and gallbladder diseases, and sleep apnea.  Some studies are also showing a correlation between obesity and Alzheimer’s.  Studies also indicate that Alzheimer’s can progress more rapidly among those who suffer from additional obesity related diseases.
The cost of obesity is also of great concern, and may increase as the changes in health care occur as well.  According to the CDC, in 2008 individuals who were overweight/obese had medical costs that were $1,429 higher than those who were of normal weight with $147 billion spent in the U.S. on medical care costs associated with obesity.
Obesity is also costing valuable years off our life.  Up to 13 years of life for white males and 8 for white females can be lost due to obesity.  African American’s can experience up to 20 years for men and 5 for women lost due to obesity.  These numbers are especially observed among individuals who are obese at a younger age.  This information was retrieved from a study published in the National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health.
There are several movements being set into motion which are focused on educating American’s about the dangers associated with obesity and ways they can improve their lifestyles to better themselves and their children.  These movements include “Let’s Move”, “Fruits & Veggies, More Matters”, “Play 60”, and many more.
March is National Nutrition Month with the theme of “Get Your Plate in Shape”.  East Texans, I challenge you to a month of reduced portion sizes, more vegetables, less starches, and once a week desserts.  These small changes can make a huge difference.  I also challenge you to get your kids involved in learning healthy lifestyle habits which can save them from a lifetime of high medical care costs, and more years to enjoy.
At BalanceDiet, located at 3080 N. Eastman Rd., Suite 108 in Longview, TX, lifestyle consultants are trained to help you discover how easy it can be to make lifestyle changes to get you and your family healthy. For more information, contact them at 903-663-5900.