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Obesity and Your Health

A recent article in USA TODAY (08/13/2012) stated that obesity is “a major health problem that translates into higher health costs and poorer quality of life.” By 2030, it is estimated that 42% of American adults will be obese. Newsbeat interviewed Grace Wong who is a dietary consultant for the Kansas Heart Hospital (KHH) and a University of Michigan graduate.  She also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the same university. She has provided KHH consulting services since 2004 and previously taught and/or worked in nutrition at the University of Texas Houston Health Science Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as well as University of Michigan.  Grace has also championed the KHH Wellness Program for the past 6 years.

Newsbeat: “How long have you been a nutritionist, Grace?”

Grace Wong: “I have worked in the dietary field for more than 20 years.”

Newsbeat: “How do you medically define obesity?

Grace Wong: “For men and women it is defined as a body mass index (BMI) > than 30 with the normal range between 18-25. Severe obesity is 40+.”

Newsbeat: “How does a person’s waistline relate to obesity and medical diseases?

Grace Wong: “If a woman’s girth is > than 35 inches or a man’s girth is > than 40 inches there is an increased incidence of heart disease and diabetes as well as other chronic medical diseases.”

Newsbeat: “In Kansas, people like their beef and burgers. How does Kansas rank in terms of national obesity?”

Grace Wong: “In the recent USA TODAY article you mentioned, Mississippi ranked 1st in obesity whereas Kansas was tied with Ohio and ranked 13th in the nation. Colorado was last in the country.”

Newsbeat: “What has been the biggest change in the KHH population that you have seen during your consulting time over the past eight years?”

Grace Wong: “Weight gain in the patient over age 70 has been a striking change. I used to see obesity commonly limited to 30, 40 or 50 year olds but now it is common also in the Medicare population.”

Newsbeat: “Is there a difference between a general healthy diet and a heart healthy diet?”

Grace Wong: “Not really. Currently a heart healthy diet is recommended for all patients as a general healthy diet.”

Newsbeat: “Any comments about wine and health?”

Grace Wong: “A single glass of wine per day helps prevent heart disease as long as a person doesn’t have a drinking problem.”

Newsbeat: “What has been your experience with the staff at KHH?”

Grace Wong: “The staff has been supportive and they work well together…. all for the best interests of their patients.”

Newsbeat: “We truly appreciate the service you provide our patients at KHH. Thank you for your time.”

For further information concerning obesity and weight management go to choosemyplate.gov and log on to Supertracker in order to develop a customized weight maintenance or weight loss program.