Obesity—a disorder involving excessive body fat and weight, stemming from the consumption of more calories than utilized; excessive body weight; body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.
In recent history, much of the topic of obesity has been muted by the term and movement “fat shaming.” Although this term has been the push-back against traditional concepts of beauty, which have put unrealistic demands on some people and been a source of bullying for others, this movement has overlooked the health dangers of celebrating excessive body weight.
Obesity is a major health concern in the United States and around the world. It is estimated that more than one-third of the adult U.S. population is obese (42% of U.S. population).
Being obese leads to a variety of health consequences, including an increased risk of developing chronic diseases: hypertension, type 2 diabetes, strokes, heart disease, kidney disease, vision problems, erectile dysfunction, cancer, and decreased immune function. A CDC study revealed that “obesity may triple the risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19 infection” and that “risks of hospitalization, intensive mechanical ventilation, and death are higher with increasing BMI.”
Psychologically, obesity may lead to depression, low self-esteem, and social isolation. People who are obese may also experience discrimination and stigma due to their weight. This may lead to feelings of shame and guilt, which can further contribute to depression and other mental health issues.
In addition to the physical and psychological health consequences of obesity, there are also economic consequences. People who are obese are more likely to miss work due to illness, which may lead to lost wages and decreased productivity. Furthermore, these individuals are also more likely to require medical care, which can lead to increased healthcare costs.
Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the consequences of obesity. Decreasing caloric intake and getting regular physical activity are two of the most important steps. Eating a balanced diet that is low in saturated fat, trans fat, and added sugars can help to reduce the risk of developing chronic disease as well as helping maintain a healthy weight.
There are also medications prescribed by a physician that may be helpful to combat obesity. Severely obese individuals may also have surgical options for weight loss.
In addition to diet and exercise, there are other steps that can be taken to reduce the health consequences of obesity. These include quitting smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and being evaluated by a physician regularly.
Obesity is a major health concern that leads to a variety of physical, psychological, economic and societal consequences. It’s also an area of health that is modified by lifestyle. If you are interested in obtaining a healthier weight, start now by making healthy eating decisions. Start moving more today, and plan for a healthier weight and healthier life. You may also seek medical advice from a qualified profession for direction and to ensure that you can tolerate the plan of choice.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommends an exercise regimen that includes aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercises. Aerobic exercise should be done at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes. Strength training should be done two to three times a week, focusing on all major muscle groups. It is also recommended to stretch (flexibility exercises) two to three times a week focusing on major muscle groups.
Caloric restriction promotes a reduction in fat/weight loss when maintained over time. Many common diets lead to overall caloric reduction, including vegetarian, keto, and intermittent fasting. The best diet for an individual may include components of the mentioned diets, keeping in mind that overall caloric restriction should not be compromised if your goal is weight loss.
A plant-based diet is a diet that consists of foods derived from plants: fruits; vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. It excludes animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs. This type of diet has been associated with reduction of chronic diseases, improved digestion, weight loss, and promoting longevity.
A ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that emphasizes healthy fats, moderate protein, and minimal carbohydrates. This type of diet has been associated with weight loss, improved metabolic health, and increased energy.
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It involves restricting caloric intake for a period, usually between 16-23 hours, and then eating normally for the remaining hours of the day. This helps to reduce body fat/weight, improve metabolic health, decrease chronic disease, and increase energy levels.
Mark Holder, MD is a board certified Family Medicine Doctor (and owner of Mperial Health in Edina, MN). He is a graduate of University of MN-Physiology; Morehouse School of Medicine; and University of Miami Family Medicine Residency. He is naturally optimistic, creative, determined and caring. Dr. Holder provides patient-centered care through customized medical services and health services memberships.
Dr. Holder has practiced medicine at Grady Health System in Atlanta, GA; Phebe
Hospital in Gbanga, Liberia; JFK Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia; Jackson Memorial Health System in Miami, FL; AM/PM Emergency House calls in Miami, FL; The Port of Miami Clinic; MD Now in West Palm Beach, Florida; Whittier Clinic (HCMC) in Minneapolis, MN; and Mperial Health in Edina, MN; and Crutchfield Dermatology in Eagan, MN.
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