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The heavy truth of Obesity: Causes, Complexities, and Solutions

Let's talk about the epidemic of obesity.

According to the CDC, the prevalence of obesity in the US from 2017-March 2021 was 41.9%. The prevalence of obesity for the same timeframe in 2000 was 30.5%. The numbers are alarming, and they do not reflect the remaining population that is overweight. You only need to sit in a crowded mall or park and observe to see we are becoming a metabolically unhealthy society. Our children are becoming obese too. For ages 2-19 it was 19.7% affecting approx. 14.7 million children. Patients often have many concerns about their weight. Here are a few common questions.

What is obesity?

Obesity is a complex disease of abnormal fat accumulation. It is defined as a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or more. BMI Calculator. Obesity is classified as Class 1- less than 35, Class 2- less than 40, or Class 3 -40 and greater. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25 up to 29. BMI calculators are a screening tool that moderately correlate but do not calculate actual body fat. There are many factors that may lead to fat accumulation and factors that interfere/inhibit weight loss. They may include genetic/inherited factors, environmental and physiological factors as well as dietary and lifestyle factors. It isn't always just about food.

Why does it matter?

Being overweight and obese as a child or adult is associated with poor metabolic health and increased mortality. Increased risk of coronary artery disease, stroke, and cancer as well as chronic diseases such as Hypertension, High cholesterol, Diabetes, Asthma, Sleep Apnea, Chronic joint pain, Osteoarthritis, Gallbladder disease, and psychological disorders of anxiety and depression are all associated with obesity.

The personal, economic, social, and national security impacts are staggering. At the time of the above-mentioned CDC report, Costs were estimated to be $173 billion in 2019 dollars. And just 2 out of 5 young adults met both the weight and physical fitness requirements to serve in military.

What can I do to lose weight?

  • Food as medicine. Begin with a healthy mediterranean type diet, lots of colorful veggies, fruits, healthy fats, lean meat. Mostly plants; not too much. No added sugars/processed foods. This is a basic dietary recommendation for everyone whether they are overweight or not. This diet is nutrient dense, maintains healthy blood sugar regulation and feeds the gut bacteria essential to metabolic heath.

  • Move. Take a walk after dinner daily. After dinner walks stimulate muscle, improves digestion, lowers blood pressure, regulates blood sugar, burns calories, lowers stress, and improves sleep. All of which is necessary for weight loss.

Is Medication right for me?

There are several medications on the market for weight loss. Lately, Wegovy, Ozempic, and Semaglutide have received a lot of press and are in demand. They are in a class called GLP-1 agonists. Wegovy is approved for weight loss, Ozempic is approved for Diabetes type 2. Semaglutide is the active ingredient of these drugs and is often compounded. GLP-1 agonists assist the body to be more insulin sensitive by promoting more insulin secretion from the pancreas. The drugs are very effective.

What do I consider before starting these weight loss drugs?

  • To qualify: BMI 27 or greater with existing chronic disease; or BMI 30 or greater.

  • It is a long-term commitment to achieve sustainable weight loss. 2 years or more for some.

  • Side effects commonly include nausea. Absolute adherence to dietary restrictions is essential to reduce/avoid side effects.

  • Intestinal transit time is slowed, cravings are reduced, and individuals feel satiety.

  • You may need a supplement to prevent constipation.

Is it because I'm eating too much?

No, not always. Often eating well and exercise does not help. There are many factors that may influence weight gain/inhibit weight loss. They may include genetic/inherited factors, environmental and physiological factors as well as dietary and lifestyle factors. It isn't always just about food.

  • See a functional medicine practitioner. A practitioner can help uncover any underlying problem that may be inhibiting your ability to lose weight.


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