A suggested resolution: lose weightAs the old year draws to a close and the new one beckons, it’s that time when we vow to live a healthier life in the new year by making a multitude of attendant resolutions. But let’s face it: talk is cheap and actually putting effort into each and every promise isn’t always as easy as we’d like it to be ― sometimes, father’s best pals are alcohol and cigarettes, mother is overweight and always feels tired, and the kids are addicted to computer games.
If not genetically inherited, most chronic illnesses are due to bad health habits. If these habits continue, a person can develop a potentially critical life-threatening illness. Even if you think your family health was below the average this year, it is never too late to take action for the better as one family will show us.
Shin Geon-tae’s family told the JoongAng Ilbo about their health habits, as evaluated by the Center for Health Promotion at Samsung Medical Center.
Mr. Shin, 45, is an office worker with a typical Korean family and lifestyle. On weekends, he spends most of his time sleeping while his son and daughter play online games, despite the fact that it is the only time that the whole family can have a meal together.
Mr. Shin and his son Jae-cheol have the worst health habits among the four. Mr. Shin drinks alcohol three to four times a week because of his job. He works in the sales department of a mid-sized company and has to make many business trips out of Seoul. He has also been a smoker for 23 years. In addition, he loves meat and insists he doesn’t have time to exercise. Mr. Shin considers himself obese, but this year all he did to improve on his health was cut the number of cigarettes he smokes by half.
Jae-cheol, a freshman at middle school, also doesn’t exercise. He says that he’s too busy going to after-school classes, but admits that he doesn’t like exercising. He doesn’t move around much even in physical education classes and eats a lot between meals ― he loves hamburgers, pizza and sodas ― and rarely eats at home.
Kim Yi-young, 42, (Mr. Shin’s wife) is more aware of the importance of health and does exercise two to three times a week. When her mother had breast cancer, she heard the physician say that obesity could have brought it on. The problem is that Ms. Kim, and the rest of the family, likes salty and spicy foods, which have little nutritional value.
The health habits of Shin Ji-min, 11, are pretty good ― like other girls, she’s very interested in her figure and tries not to eat meat or instant foods. Her parents sometimes worry about her picky eating habits.
The Center for Health Promotion rated Mr. Shin’s family, in college terms, as a “D.” The body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and cholesterol level of Mr. Shin (172 centimeters tall, roughly 5-foot7, and 81 kilograms in weight, roughly 178 pounds) were all above normal ― his BMI was 27.4, blood pressure was 157 over 94 and total cholesterol level was 240 milligrams per decaliter. (Normal measurements for his body type should be a BMI between 18.5 and 22.9, blood pressure of 140 over 90 and total cholesterol below 200.)
If Mr. Shin does not change his lifestyle, he runs the risk of a heart attack or stroke within 10 years. His cholesterol level could impair his glucose tolerance ― a possible precursor to diabetes. Mr. Shin’s “health age” turned out to be 59, 14 years older than his actual age.
The BMI of Ms. Kim (160 centimeters tall and weighting 60 kilograms) was 23.4, which is considered slightly obese.
Jae-cheol, however, was in worst shape. He’s 150-centimeters tall and weighs 56 kilograms and his BMI is 24.9. He falls into the obese group and risks potential juvenile and later geriatric chronic diseases. If he maintains his current lifestyle, he also risks high blood pressure and impaired glucose tolerance by the time he reaches his 30s, said Sung Ji-dong, a doctor from the center, recommending exercise and healthier eating habits.
Ji-min is 145-centimeters tall and 40-kilograms in weight, and her BMI is 19. Just by looking at the figures, she’s normal, but there is also the possibility that she could have difficulties in growth if she doesn’t eat a balanced diet.
The solution for the family’s health problems is simple: Reduce risky elements and increase healthy ones. Mr. Shin has to drop his BMI, blood pressure and total cholesterol level to normal by quitting smoking and starting workouts immediately. Exercise also helps prevent weight gain in smokers who quit, thus the two should be done together.
Ms. Kim should also exercise. Abdominal obesity in middle age can lead to all kinds of illnesses ― men should aim for a waist under 90 centimeters, and women, 80 centimeters.
Annual check ups were also recommended for Mr. Shin and Ms. Kim who are in their 40s when immune responses become weaker. For Ms. Kim, as her family has a history of cancer, she needs to have more frequent check ups. Salty and spicy foods are also out, as is take-out food deliveries, as these are also reasons for the increased obesity and health age of her family ― plainer and more traditional foods should make up their diet. They should also eat less in restaurants.
It goes without saying that parents are responsible for the lifetime health habits of their kids so for their New Year’s resolutions, all the family should promise to eat healthy foods and exercise together.
by Ko Jong-kwan
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