When you fill out a health history questionnaire, do you ever think to list your struggle with weight? I doubt most do.
That can be blamed on those of us in healthcare. We have, for far too long, failed to address issues with weight with our patients. Instead, excusing it as a personal failure, laziness, or a lack of effort. All of these are very far from the actual truth.
And, that narrow view is now changing...
Nearly 40% of Americans over the age of 20 are considered obese.
Most of those who successfully lose weight will gain up to 50% of that weight back within the first year. Regardless of how they lost it.
Increased body weight leads to many other health issues including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, obstructive sleep apnea, joint pain, and increased risk of some cancers.
Now we know that a BMI greater than 35 puts individuals 60 years old and younger at increased risk of complications and death from covid-19.
This data seems daunting but there is a silver lining.
Research has shown that a modest weight loss of just 5-10% can improve many of these issues. It can reduce your blood sugar levels, prevent diabetes in those who are borderline, improve blood pressure, symptoms of acid reflux and obstructive sleep apnea, and decrease joint pain.
A little goes a long way, literally.
The real issue is finding the secret to KEEPING THE WEIGHT OFF, right? Many of us have been experts at losing weight. We can successfully reach our goal weight and have done so numerous times to regain the weight and more.
So, what is the key to losing it the weight for good?
Approaching weight gain as a chronic condition and not a temporary fix.
Addressing the multiple factors that lead to weight gain: genetic, biological, and environmental
Preparing for our bodies to fight the weight loss and taking appropriate measures to prevent regain.
This takes a comprehensive approach that combines lifestyle change, calorie restriction, behavior modification, and often medication along with ongoing support from a healthcare provider who is invested in your weight loss success and maintenance.
Would you stop seeing your diabetes specialist once your A1c was in normal range?
Would you no longer follow up with your Cardiologist after you recovered from a heart attack? Would you stop seeing an Obstetrician after they confirmed you were pregnant?
Of course, the answer to these questions are all NO. That is because they are illnesses that need ongoing care and cannot be resolved with one visit.
Issues with body weight are no different. However, many times healthcare providers are reluctant to address a patient's weight in fear of offending them. But, you can speak up. If you ask for help, most are more than willing to provide it. If they do not feel they have the resources, they can refer you to someone who can.
It is your life, your body, your health, and your livelihood. Losing weight and keeping it off is far more complicated than eating less and exercising more.
Do not be afraid to ask for help and do not feel guilty for needing it.
I encourage you to visit www.ItsBiggerThan.com to learn more about the obesity awareness movement and how you can initiate a conversation with your PCP to get the help you need.