What's Around Your Waist Matters

Dwayne Clark, MD, Family Medicine
Measuring Waistline

We live in Wisconsin. We love our brats, cheese, Friday night fish fry’s, and Culver’s custard! But, did you know that 70 percent of us are either overweight or obese? It is well known that being overweight increases your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and heart disease. What may not be widely known is that obesity also increases your risk for several types of cancer, including: breast, colon, esophageal, stomach, liver, gallbladder, pancreatic, uterine, ovarian, kidney and prostate cancers.

A recent study published in the British Journal of Cancer showed that the risk of developing these obesity-related cancers increases with elevated body mass index (BMI), as well as elevated waist circumference (WC). But what does this mean?

A normal BMI is around 25. A BMI between 25 and 30 in considered overweight. If your BMI is over 30, you are considered obese. Morbid obesity is defined as BMI greater than 40. So according to the statistics, 70 percent of us are above a 25 BMI, meaning we are at an increased risk of certain cancers.

WC is measured by taking a tape measure at the level of your belly button and measuring around your waist. A WC is considered high above 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men. Abdominal fat is associated with more body inflammation, more blood clotting, and hormones that interfere with your body’s ability to process sugar. Fat cells, specifically around the waist, produce chemicals or hormones that are not good for us.

We are fortunate to have many resources in this area to help keep active, such as the YMCA, Aquatic Center, the FDL Loop for walking, running and biking, Lakeside Park, Kiekhaefer Park and many more hiking trails. And, Agnesian HealthCare experts can help as well! We have certified dietitians and nutritionists, cooking classes, Walk With A Doc, and numerous nutritional educational classes. Give them a try!  Preview our classes and sign-up on-line here: http://www.agnesian.com/classes-events-groups .

Bottom line, if you have a high BMI and high WC, it is it is important talk with your family doctor to discuss resources and strategies that are available to help you with safe and long-lasting weight loss. It may not be realistic to completely cut out the Wisconsin summer indulgences, but setting reasonable goals and gradually incorporating healthy food choices and a regular exercise routine will help ensure a healthy future! And with the right combination of diet and exercise with weight loss, you may just prevent cancer!

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