Weigh In returns to warn about cancer

March 02, 2004|By Jennifer Lehman | Jennifer Lehman,SUN STAFF

Thousands of people are expected to take part tomorrow in the American Cancer Society's second annual Great American Weigh In, a national effort to make people more aware of the links between obesity and cancer.

According to the cancer society, about 35 percent of cancer deaths could have been prevented through healthier eating habits and more exercise.

David Zauche, the society's director of health initiatives, said the society teamed up with Weight Watchers to find ways to help reduce risks of cancer. Focus groups found that only 1 percent of women thought there was a relationship between cancer and obesity, he said.

"Folks weren't aware of this," Zauche said. "If there were a single thing this day was about ... I think in a nutshell it will be getting in people's minds the connection between weight and cancer risks."

Similar to the cancer society's Great American Smokeout - which encourages smokers to quit for 24 hours - the Weigh In strives to stop unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Sixty-four percent of Americans are overweight; of those, 30 percent are considered obese, the cancer society says.

"We are letting people know that weight is a huge factor in cancer-related deaths," said Ben Garber of Weight Watchers. "It's neck-and-neck with tobacco use."

Tomorrow, people will be weighed at participating Weight Watchers sites. At no charge, they may learn their Body Mass Index, a gauge of whether their weight is healthy relative to their height. A healthy weight range is a BMI of 19 to 25, the society says.

"If your BMI is over 25, you're at a health risk for lots of diseases," Garber said.

If that is the case, Weight Watchers will urge people to change their eating habits and exercise daily.

Zauche knows that it is not easy for many to make these changes, but says if adults maintained a healthy weight and did not smoke, they cut their chances of cancer by 60 percent.

"The biggest thing people don't realize ... is that they can better their odds about cancer," he said.

For Weigh In sites, visit www.WeightWatchers.com or call 800-651-6000.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.