Ain’t Nobody Got Time for Fat

If you want to be healthy, you don’t have time for the serious health consequences associated with being overweight. With a sharp rise in prevalence in recent years, obesity is perhaps the most talked about health condition in the United States … but why? More than a third of American adults are obese, and obesity contributes to several serious health conditions, including sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, abnormal menstruation, infertility, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, liver and gallbladder disease and even cancer.

So what does it mean to be obese, anyway? Being overweight and being obese are both conditions in which an individual is considered to be above a healthy body weight for his or her height, measured by the body mass index or BMI. Though the BMI is the most common way to identify obesity, more accurate measures of body fat and fat distribution include waist circumference (abdominal fat is a strong predictor for obesity and obesity-related diseases), waist-to-hip ratios, ultrasounds and MRIs.

So who is at risk? Behavior, environment and genetic factors all contribute to obesity. Though your genes may not determine whether or not you will be obese, they can affect how your body accumulates, stores and uses fat. Obesity also affects some racial groups more than others and lower incomes make access to affordable, healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables more difficult. In addition, many neighborhoods and communities may make it more difficult or unsafe for both children and adults to be physically active.

Childhood obesity, which has almost tripled in the last 30 years, is also a large indicator for adult obesity—and when children are overweight, obesity in adulthood will likely be more severe. Childhood obesity has many of the same causes as adult obesity: larger amounts of time spent watching TV, playing video games or using mobile devices instead of physical activity.

So what can you do? Behavior and environment play a critical part in obesity and are the best areas for prevention and management. Try some of these tips to help prevent or manage obesity for yourself and your family:

  • Replace sugary beverages and foods that are high in fat and sugar with water, fruits and vegetables.
  • Make time for physical activity every day; going for a brisk 30-minute walk five days a week will help keep you in shape and boost your mood.
  • Limit time in front of the screen to one to two hours a day for children and encourage outdoor playtime.
  • Share your family history with your doctor. He or she can help determine if you are at high risk for obesity and can help you come up with a plan to prevent or manage excess weight gain.

The best path to better health and wellness starts in your doctor’s office. If obesity is a concern for you or your family, make an appointment to discuss what you can do.

Meritus Medical Group is committed to helping our patients achieve their ideal weight. If you've been unsuccessful with weight loss, our physician-supervised weight loss program provides treatment in a clinical setting with a medical doctor. Our weight loss program includes nutrition and fitness counseling. The use of weight-loss medications may be considered, if needed and appropriate, to help you lose weight. With the help of our medical professionals, you will receive structured guidance, and strategies to maintain the progress you have achieved. For more information please contact Dr. Matthew Beckwith at Robinwood Family Practice.