“All of that makes you question: Are you on the right track?” she said. “The data would say no.”
That so many women are obese is cause for alarm not only because of the increased health risks for them but also for those around them, Collazo-Clavell said.
“That’s kind ofthe tip of the iceberg,” she said. Women are often the primary caregivers in a family, and their eating and activity habits can influence their children and others in their family.
An example of that ripple effect: Collazo-Clavell is start ing to see some of her previous patients’ children and is working with them to help manage their obesity.
It’s difficult to pinpoint what is causing women to struggle more with obesity than men, but doctors say there likely are many factors at play.
Women typically have two times in their lives when they are at risk of gaining significant amounts of weight: childbearing (during pregnancy and after giving birth) and menopause.
Collazo-Clavell hears from many new mothers that they find meal planning and preparation tough after giving birth. Also of concern, she notes that women as a group are going into pregnancy heavier than they were 20 years ago.
It makes it harder to manage a healthy pregnancy weight if they’re already overweight, she said.
An epidemic, One of the country’s leading health problems, obesity can lead to serious diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.
Body mass index (BMI) is calculated by dividing weight (in kilograms) by height squared (in centimeters). Anyone with a BMI of 25 or more is considered overweight, while those with a BMI of 30 or more are obese. (Find a calculator at tinyurl.com/o2df8n1.)
For example, a woman of average height in the U.S. (5 feet 4) would be classified as obese if she weighs at least175pounds. An average height American man (5 feet 9) who weighs 203 pounds or more would be considered obese.
Dr. Guilford Hartley is medical director of the Hennepin Bariatric Center and Obesity Program, where 100 surgeries for weight management are performed each year.
He sees many more female patients than men. Part of the reason, he said, is that women are more likely to seek rnedical treatment for a weig,ht issue than men.
“In our culture, whel a man’s overweight, nobody pays too much attention,” said “But we have such an emphasis on being thin for women that we’re culturally forcing women to be more concerned about their weight than men. The social pressure if you’re overweight and a woman is higher.”
Those seeking surgery often have struggled with a weight problem for a long time.
“Usually by the time I see them, most of them get here saying, ‘I’ve done this all my life. This is my sixth yo-yo,” he said.
He found the recent CDC report on obesity rates concerning. “Up until these reports, it was looking as if the so-called obesity epidemic was kind of plateauing.”
In analyzing the new data, Hartley and Collazo-Clavell point to societal changes that have led people to become more sedentary.
If you were a clerical per son, 20 years ago you’d have to get up and put the piece of paper in the file cabinet. Now you never have to get up off; your chair,” Hartley said We have engineered … physical activity out of our workplace and out of our home place?’
The pres cription of “eat less and exercise more does not address the kind of vigorous activity needed to tip the scales.
“When we tell them to exercise more, we mean get on a treadmill for, an hour, three days a week,” he said. ‘And the kind of exercise that it takes to have a significant impact on weight is more like if you’re a hardscrabble farmer and you’re working up a sweat fox eight hours a day just to put food on the table.”
It’s been 10 years since Traphagan had a. surgical band wrapped around her stomac1 to make it smaller. The bane makes it possible’to consume only 1.5 cups of food at a time But it’s stillpossible to overeat she said, which is why she hac to learn how to eat healthf4 to control her weight.
Today, she has poachee eggs instead of doughnuts fo: breakfast and drinks plenty o ice water throughout the da3 She has maintained a health” , weight
“It’s been real hard, thougl It’s not easy,” she said.
“I got down to 155 pounch My goal weight is 124. I’m stil working on that, and I hope t, achieve that this year.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Allie Shah • 612-673-4488 • @al ieshah