Jan 19


Happy Monday, and welcome to Medical Mondays!

Weight has always been a very touchy subject, but can we please discuss it for a moment?


I took this picture yesterday at the grocery store. :[

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned that I’m currently living in/around what is ranked #1 as both the most miserable city and the fattest city in America. 50% of the kids in this county are overweight or obese.

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!

I came up with this design ages ago for our class t-shirt contest! :]
Disclaimer: This information was gleaned from UpToDate articles and other med school resources. This is also where I reiterate that I am merely a medical student struggling through the world that is her clinical rotations. The statements made on this blog should not be taken as medical advice to treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please contact your own physician or health care provider before starting a health or fitness/wellness program. (See full disclaimer here.)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.fairyburger.com/obesity/


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  1. rachel @ Athletic Avocado

    great article! there really are no shortcuts to losing weight! Many people need to realize that! Just eating well and exercising!!!
    rachel @ Athletic Avocado recently posted…Gluten-free Orange Sesame SconesMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Exactly! There are so many people looking for quick fixes that companies like to prey on. It makes me sad! :[

  2. Coco (@Got2Run4Me)

    I think we really cover up how much impact obesity has on health. New drugs have to be shown to work in obese populations to get FDA approval. New technology has to be developed for MRIs that can see through thick layers of fat. Yes, obese people deserve good medical care, but while food companies devise new ways to keep us overeating, the health field can hardly keep up!
    Coco (@Got2Run4Me) recently posted…Shining The Light On Old JournalsMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Very true, and that really drives up the overall cost of health care–for the patients and for the nation as a whole! :[

  3. Annmarie

    Great post, Farrah- always informative!!! Definitely no work around- you have to do the work to get results. Hopefully more Americans will take some steps (even if they are baby) to improve their overall health.
    Annmarie recently posted…Meatless Monday: Southwestern Stuffed Sweet PotatoesMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! That’s the hope! Everyone has to start somewhere, so I like to consider baby steps as major progress, because sometimes, getting started is the hardest part!

  4. Susie @ SuzLyfe

    As a sister to someone who is not obese but who is very sedentary, and as someone who comes from multiple cities that put a really emphasis on health and fitness as well as ones that do not, the sedentary and over eating lifestyle is just something that breaks my heart. It’s like smoking–you are just killing yourself!
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Filled to the Brim (MLK Weekend)My Profile

    1. Farrah

      So true! I think because it usually takes such a slower course, people are more inclined to ignore it because they “still feel fine.”

      My mom is far from obese, but rather sedentary, so we’ve been trying to get her to exercise with us more often. She ran 2 miles without stopping a couple weeks ago! <3!!!

  5. Emilie

    Very informative post! It’s great that people like you are addressing obesity. The more we get people talking about it, the more the message will be heard!
    Emilie recently posted…Stop ShavingMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      I’m trying hard! I’m rotating at a pediatric office right now and trying to convince all the kids to exercise and eat healthy. :D!

  6. Rachel G

    While Angel and I are in my hometown, we’re instituting daily “P.E. Class” for all of my siblings, to get them moving more, which isn’t always their first choice of activity given the high heat and humidity, but I believe it’s really important for kids to get into good eating and exercise habits from a young age! I know myself, I’ll never be an exercise junkie–I don’t love it, but there’s definitely ways to make being active fun!
    Rachel G recently posted…Hometown To-Do ListMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      That’s so awesome of you both, and major props to you for getting em’ to do it despite the weather! I definitely understand that being a fitness junkie won’t ever be everyone’s cup of tea, but am always super happy to see people making healthy choices and inspiring the people around them! <3 The key definitely is to make it fun, and to start em' young! :]

  7. Elsie @ Sharing Healthiness

    Food can be our best friend but also our worst enemy and it is scary to think that food is causing so many illnesses and diseases. I was an obese child and I wish I could have understood what I know now about health and fitness. It is so important to start when you are young and embrace this lifestyle. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Elsie @ Sharing Healthiness recently posted…3 Natural Ways to Wake Up Every Morning Without CoffeeMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      For sure! I really think/wish the nation as a whole would put more emphasis on starting healthy habits young, but a lot/most of the time, it’s not really even up to the kids so much as it is the environmental factors and their parents/caretakers. It’s awesome that you learned though, and are inspiring your readers to do the same! :]

  8. Kim

    It breaks my heart that so many children are overweight or obese. I really hope that we can reverse this epidemic in the coming years.

    1. Farrah

      Same here. :[ It makes me even sadder to know that most of the time, it’s not really even their “fault,” so much as it is their environmental factors (or at least, that’s what I’ve been seeing thus far).

  9. jess meddows

    Great post, Farrah. I noticed when we were traveling through America (we’ve done a few epic 3 month long ones across the States) that certain states/cities seemed very healthy, and at others, we were shocked at not just the levels of obesity, but also at the morbid obesity we saw. And I was also shocked by people insisting that you can be obese and healthy. Is it a lack of education? Or people not being able to afford fresh food?
    jess meddows recently posted…Gord Chiang Mai Guesthouse ThailandMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! I think it’s a touchy subject in general that a lot of people tiptoe around because they’re afraid to offend. There has definitely been that push lately that obese individuals can be healthy–I don’t doubt that, as there are plenty of average-sized and thin individuals who aren’t healthy too. What I wish people would understand is that on the whole, obesity vastly increases the risk of a ton of different health problems. I think a lot of it does have to do with lack of education and/or apathy, and there still lies that notion that eating healthy has to cost a lot, which I definitely think is untrue.

  10. Melanie

    Great insight and suggestions! Thanks for sharing.
    Melanie recently posted…Weekly RundownMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! Here’s to hoping I can convince my future patients to listen to em’! ๐Ÿ˜›

  11. Ricardo

    I was one of those kids. Heck, even after college I was one of those adults. I weighed too much and I looked awful. So I did the only thing I could do when I felt miserable, and hit the gym. I feek better, look better, and as long as I’m here I’ll never look back.

    1. Farrah

      Yeah! ๐Ÿ˜€ Major props to you for changing up your lifestyle habits fir the better, and hooray for being a beast at the gym! ๐Ÿ˜›

  12. Mar @ Mar on the Run

    great post! I don’t think people realize how much of an epidemic obesity is and the detriment it can do to your overall health.
    Mar @ Mar on the Run recently posted…Shamrock Half Training Week 4My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Agreed. :/ I feel like it’s one of those silent and unbelievably slow killers that people don’t want to do anything about because they still feel [kindasorta] fine.

  13. Jess @hellotofit

    Thanks for shedding some more light onto a very important problem that we have been having in the US!
    Jess @hellotofit recently posted…Monday motivation – small efforts to successMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! Here’s to hoping it’ll change for the better in the years to come!

  14. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

    This is a subject I am so passionate about! It is so sad, but we need to keep educating!
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine recently posted…Why This Yogi Loves Inversions…And You Should Too!My Profile

    1. Farrah

      I’m currently working on getting myself more involved with a program that combats all of this by way of free nutrition counseling/education and personalized workouts/activity schedules for everyone who participates! Super super excited about it and really hoping that I’ll be able to help out somehow! *-*

  15. genevieve @ gratitude & greens

    Obesity is becoming such a large issue (pun not intended) in not just America but in other countries like Canada and Australia. So much of the nasty junk food America produces is being exported to these places… and then these places want to make their own versions, and ta-da! You have people eating junk all day long. And if you live in a city where you have to drive, you really don’t move that much during the day. I hope everyone (not just those who are obese) wake up and try to change the way things are- create more public spaces (such as parks) with communal exercise equipment (I’m not talking fancy, just basic stuff- they do this in China!), stop making policies that help huge food corporations sell their gross, not-food items to the public, etc. I can’t imagine walking around with an extra 25-50 pounds on me… it would be really tough!
    genevieve @ gratitude & greens recently posted…Gluten-Free Matcha Crรƒยชpes With Chocolate Ganache + Toasted HazelnutsMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Very much agreed, especially on the part about living in a city or town where you have to drive! One of the things I miss most about where I went to undergrad was that it was entirely possible to walk/bike everywhere (and sometimes was even faster if you did that instead of driving–I never had a car for my entire four years there). In the past couple years, there sometimes aren’t even sidewalks, or it’s just not all that safe to walk, so it makes it really hard

      I really, really hope they do that–public spaces would be a great idea, and I think it’d be awesome if companies would provide healthy food for lunch meetings instead of junk food. (Honestly, just getting people to cut out soda/pop here would make a world of a difference in so many lives.)

  16. Gloria

    Great post. It’s really crazy to me how much obesity has taken over our country, particularly involving the younger generation. It actually scares me a little to have my own kids! The points you mention here are right on – it’s all about eating less and moving more. I’m a huge proponent for not eating diet/light foods, because they either have more sugar or more artificial ingredients, and I always go back to my mom or grandma’s generation – they ate whole-fat foods and pretty much whatever they wanted but never had half of the issues we have now, because they were constantly outside playing! Anyway, loving Medical Mondays, as usual ๐Ÿ™‚
    Gloria recently posted…ClassPass San Diego: My ExperienceMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      So true! I don’t want kids, but with the way things are going, I’d be worried about raising my hypothetical kids in this environment too! :[ It makes me really sad. Much as I love technology, I really think it’s been a huge proponent to why each generation becomes more sedentary than the last.

  17. Sonali- The Foodie Physician

    Another great Medical Monday post- thanks for sharing Farrah!

    1. Farrah

      Thank you, Sonali! :]! Hope you have an awesome rest of the week!

  18. Jen @ pretty little grub

    Great post! I think its so important people realize there are no shortcuts. Health is a lifetime journey for everyone. It’s not easy but it’s so, so worth it.
    Jen @ pretty little grub recently posted…FYI Friday – Nutrient Requirements for Active People – IronMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Exactly! It makes me so sad when people try to take the “easy way out,” end up right back to where they started (or worse), and wonder why surgery/diet pills didn’t “cure” them. :[

  19. Tricia @ A Couple Of Dashes

    Wait… that was someone’s actual shopping cart? GROSS!
    Tricia @ A Couple Of Dashes recently posted…5 Things Friday โ€“ Lady Dates, Ewok Dogs and A Hole In My Heart!My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Yes indeed. :'( It was part of my goal this year to use most, if not all of my own photos on my posts and…this is what I found. ;[

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