Achieving and maintaining an optimal weight is one of the most important steps you can take to improving your physical health. While maintaining an optimal weight is beneficial to everyone, it takes on a special significance for amputees. Not only does proper weight management help in the prevention or control of a variety of health problems such as musculoskeletal, respiratory and circulatory issues, but maintaining a consistent weight ensures that the fit of your prosthesis will remain optimal and you will have a minimal amount of wear issues.
A major concern in the United States today is the overall health and fitness of the average citizen. Studies by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 6 of every 10 Americans are overweight and slightly more than 1 in 4 are classified as obese. These figures reflect an increase in adult obesity of over 60 percent in the last 20 years, and as horrifying as that might be, what is really horrific is the increase in overweight children. Teenage obesity in America has tripled in the last 25 years and shows no sign of receding.
The costs in America attributed to obesity are staggering. The CDC has estimated that the direct medical costs of obesity-related disease approach $95 billion annually and other studies estimate the total costs, factoring in lost wages and productivity, etc., exceed $140 billion annually. The biggest cost of obesity however is not in dollars but in deaths and disability.
Excess weight and obesity are one of the leading killers in America today, claiming approximately 300,000 lives a year. 90 percent of type ll diabetes patients are obese and obesity leads to a much higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, breast, colon and prostate cancer. Excess weight negatively impacts the musculoskeletal system as well, creating undue stress and wear on joints, bones, tendons, and connective tissues. Poor nutrition, a major contributing factor to obesity, also causes the deterioration of cartilage.
In addition to the multitude of physiological complications that can accompany obesity, there are the psychological aspects. Studies have shown a direct correlation between being overweight and depression and low self esteem. Those dealing with obesity suffer from a multitude of complications which tend to continue to multiply until there is little hope of improvement.
For Prosthetic and Orthotic patients, excessive weight and weight fluctuations can pose special problems. By definition, an orthotic device is used to correct or assist a deficiency or deformity of the skeletal and or muscular systems. Maintaining a reasonable weight level will reduce the strain on the deficiency being assisted. Prosthetic wearers will find that by obtaining and maintaining an optimal weight they can ambulate more smoothly and expend much less energy. Their prostheses will also fit properly for a much longer period of time and with fewer, if any, modifications.
As health care providers, Virginia Prosthetics and Orthotics encourages everyone to view good health as one of their primary life goals. Attaining an optimal weight and fitness level is not something that can be achieved overnight but you can start immediately. All you need to do is make the decision that you want to live longer and be happier while you do it.
Always consult your physician prior to starting any diet or exercise program to evaluate your current condition and to get their recommendation as to the type of diet and exercise that will help you reach your goals. Once you have consulted your physician and determined what your goals are, a good way to ensure that you stick with your program and enjoy it more is to find a friend with similar goals and work at them together.
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