Happy Monday, and welcome to Medical Mondays!
Weight has always been a very touchy subject, but can we please discuss it for a moment?
Whilst on my IM rotation, my preceptor spent a lot of time explaining to his patients the reasoning behind the things he asked them to do. Here’s one of the analogies he used:
“Imagine if I put a 25 lb. bag of sand on my shoulders and had it sit there 24/7, no matter what I was doing. What do you think would happen?”
“Well, it’d wear you out quicker.”
Obviously, there’s a lot more that goes into it, but in the grand scheme of things, that’s exactly what happens when your body is dealing with excess fat/weight.
Obesity (BMI 30+) refers to an excess of fat, and is a chronic disease that’s increasing in prevalence and is associated with a significant increase in mortality, with a higher risk for many other disorders, including diabetes mellitus, hypertension, dyslipidemia, heart disease, osteoarthritis, stroke, sleep apnea, cancer, etc. The increase in glycemic index of foods, portion sizes, and fast food restaurants have all contributed as partial influences in the rise in obesity.
A sedentary lifestyle plays a significant role. Remember my post on the benefits and risks of exercise? (All of this ties together!) Compared to fit individuals with a normal weight, unfit individuals had twice the risk of mortality regardless of their BMI.
The distribution of body fat is also an important determinant–patients with abdominal (central) obesity are at the greatest risk.
- The risk of developing a chronic disease increases with increasing BMI.
- More than 80% of the cases of Type II diabetes can be attributed to obesity. Type II diabetes was formerly known as “adult-onset diabetes,” but as almost 1/3 of children and adolescents in the United States are either overweight or obese, the prevalence of Type II diabetes in children is also increasing.
- The risk of hypertension is greatest in subjects with upper body and abdominal obesity.
- …I could go on for days, so I’m going to stop here and move on.
While there are medical interventions available in the form of medicines and surgery, they aren’t considered to be “cures” for obesity, and cannot be used to take the place of diet and exercise. There are no shortcuts to health. Even if you take medications and/or get surgery, you still need to change the way you eat and how active you are.
- Be more active.
Find something you like that you can stick to. You can start small and/or in shorter intervals of time and build from there!
- Improve your diet.
Any diet that reduces the amount of calories that you eat can help you to lose weight as long as you stick with it. Try to have regular meal times with smaller portions, and don’t skip meals. Avoid sweets and processed foods, and eat more vegetables and fruits.
- If you smoke, quit. Now. (Please.)
- Limit your alcohol intake.
< 1 drink/day if you’re female, and < 2 drinks/day if you’re male.
Most people become obese because they eat too much and move too little, so the very-generalized bottom line is to eat less and move more.
I recently found a volunteer opportunity here that I’m super, super excited about because it pretty much encompasses everything I’d like to do as a future family physician. (More info later, because if it pans out, it definitely deserves its own post! <3 )
P.S. The New Year, New You Giveaway I’m contributing to has a lot of awesome things in the prize package that can help you get started on the right foot!