There is a rather large and disturbing truth in Georgia which is hard to talk about, but we must start the conversation.
In too many ways, Georgia is far less healthy than our nation overall. For example, a greater percent of adults are overweight and never move their bodies for exercise in Georgia than in other parts of the United States.
Tourists may come here and have a great time in the South, but our lifestyles are killing us at the same time.
This is so easy to fix. It just takes small steps toward a more balanced lifestyle. Nothing radical, nothing expensive and nothing you can't do in your own home and life.
While it may be common to be overweight, it is not healthy and should not be seen as normal, average or OK.
Big people can be healthy and small people can be unhealthy. But people who carry too much of the wrong kind of weight on their body in the wrong places will always be less healthy than they could be. Those people are likely to become sick with a preventable disease, such as diabetes or heart disease, have long-term disabilities and die earlier.
The choice is have a healthier lifestyle is always yours to make and Georgians need to understand the reasons for their choices.
Would you trade your favorite dessert for another day of life? Or would you rather trade 60 minutes of exercise, have your favorite dessert and live longer? Think about it.
To start on a healthier lifestyle, residents should know their body mass index, or BMI. It is one of the ways health professionals measure how healthy a person's weight is or is not.
Many people assume if they have a high, or unhealthy, BMI, their health care professional would tell them. But that's not always true. Sometimes health care professionals may not like to talk about weight any more than you do. So if you're interested in your BMI percentile, it's best to ask directly.
BMI also can be misleading. Athletic individuals, in particular, may fall into the overweight category when they are just very muscular.
While BMI is an important indicator of your health, it is only one piece of the overall picture. If your BMI score indicates you are not within the healthy range, you need a complete weight and lifestyle evaluation with a health care professional.
To determine your BMI the online calculator at WebMD (www.webmd.com/diet/calc-bmi-plus) is easy to use. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.99 is considered the healthiest. If you are moving toward either points, it is time to make some changes.
This approach also lets you calculate the ratio of your waist size to your height because where you carry your weight is also important.
Belly fat affects your health more than fat in your arms or your hips. Having too much fat in your abdomen is linked to a higher risk of cholesterol and diabetes and puts you at risk for other diseases.
When you know your BMI, you can continue the conversation about how to make better choices about your health and wellness.
Palmer Steverson and Andrew Pleasant work with the Canyon Ranch Institute, which is dedicated to showing people how to live healthier and encouraging folks to take small steps to adjust their lifestyle.