Former surgeon general wages war on obesity
October 29, 1996
Web posted at: 7:10 p.m. EST
In this story:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett
Koop is trying to enlist doctors in a new battle of the
Koop's organization, Shape Up America, introduced new medical
guidelines Tuesday urging doctors to treat obesity as a
dangerous and chronic disease to be treated with diet,
exercise, drugs and even surgery.
"This document, I hope, will literally change the way
physicians think about obesity," Koop said.
Government officials estimate that more than a third of
Americans are overweight and that 300,000 die prematurely
each year as a result.
"The sad fact is that the medical community has been sitting
on the sidelines while the disease of obesity has mushroomed
into a public health crisis," Koop said.
New guidelines are designed to help doctors determine which
patients are obese and what type of treatment they need. The
guidelines are based on a patient's body mass index, or BMI,
which is calculated by dividing a person's weight in
kilograms by their height in meters squared.
The guidelines advise doctors to intervene if a patient's BMI
is 27 or greater. For someone five feet, five inches tall,
that's a weight of 160 pounds. Patients with high blood
pressure and other medical factors are advised to keep their
weight even lower.
For people who are at low to moderate risk, nutrition and
exercise are the keys. For those at higher risk for serious
health problems because of obesity, weight control drugs can
also be used.
In extreme cases surgery may be an option, according to the
The new guidelines will soon be featured on the Internet.
Shape Up America is introducing a "cyberclinic" where
Internet users can calculate their own BMI and also visit a
virtual gym for advice on fitness and nutrition.
Obesity has been linked to heart disease, diabetes,
hypertension, gall bladder disease, arthritis and certain
cancers, including colorectal and prostate cancer in men, and
endometrial, cervical, ovarian and breast cancer in women.
Correspondent Eugenia Halsey and Reuters contributed to this report.
Related sites: Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
© 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.