WHEELING- Dr. Pamela Parmar believes obese people are suffering from malnutrition.
"In some countries, people are dying from starvation," Parmar said. "In the United States, people are dying from over abundance."
She said the fundamental cause of obesity and being overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended.
Photo by Fred Connors
Exercise and healthy eating are keys to combating an alarming spike in obesity, according to Dr. Pamela Parmar, left, and Becky Frome, director of cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation at Wheeling Hospital’s Howard Long Wellness Center.
The World Health Organization defines malnutrition as "a condition that develops when the body does not get the right amount of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it needs to maintain healthy tissues and organ function."
Malnutrition occurs in people who are either undernourished or overnourished. Undernutrition is a consequence of consuming too few essential nutrients or using or excreting them more rapidly than they can be replaced. Overnutrition results from eating too much, eating too many of the wrong things, not exercising enough, or taking too many vitamins or other dietary replacements, according to the WHO.
A reality associated with obesity is that today's children may not outlive their parents, according to Eric M. Bost, former Under Secretary of Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services for the U.S. Department of Agricultural,
Bost told a congressional sub-committee on human rights and wellness, "Over 400,000 deaths a year are related to poor diet and physical inactivity; poor diet and inactivity are the second leading cause of preventable death after smoking; and deaths from obesity are soon expected to surpass deaths from smoking."
He said recent trends among children show that in the past 20 years, the percentage of children who are overweight has doubled and the percentage of adolescents who are overweight has more than tripled.
"If we do not stem this tide, many children in this generation of children will not outlive their parents," he said.
Bost said obesity and physical inactivity are major risk factors for chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The fact is obesity is largely preventable. At the individual level, people can limit caloric intake from total fats and sugars, increase consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts; and engage in regular physical activity-60 minutes a day for children and 150 minutes per week for adults.
An August 2012 report of the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that West Virginia is now the fourth most obese state in the nation. After three decades of increases, adult obesity rates remained level in every state except for Arkansas. However, rates remain high - West Virginia's adult obesity rate is 33.8 percent, up from 27.7 percent in 2003 and from 13.7 percent in 1990.
Parmar said the convenience and availability of fast foods adds to the problem.
"People do not want to take the time to sit down and plan healthy meals," she said.
Parmar said people should educate themselves about developing a health lifestyle.
"Knowledge is power," she said. "We need to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy eating. People should balance their caloric intake with an appropriate amount of exercise to expend it."