Obesity has become an epidemic in the United States. 1 in 3 Americans is now obese. Because we are getting bigger as a population – the rates of obesity related medical problems such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, acid reflux, etc. are also rising. As a result we are spending about 210 billion dollars yearly on managing these comorbidities, which is almost 20% of our entire health care expenditure.
It is important that as individuals and as a society we address this growing problem. There are many ways to prevent and improve the diseases that are connected to obesity. Increasing physical exercise, changing your diet, and working toward behavior changes will go a long way. There are also medications and interventional procedures (including endoscopic and surgical) that can treat this condition.
You are considered obese when your body mass index (BMI) is at 30 or higher. The way this is calculated is by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. Those with a BMI of below 18.5 are considered underweight; those between 18.5 and 24.9 are considered of healthy weight. Obesity Class I is a BMI from 30 to 34.9 while Class II obesity is for 35 to 39.9. Extreme or morbid obesity is categorized as a BMI of 40 or higher.
Hormones, behavior, and genetics all play a part in body weight, but obesity happens when you consume more calories in a day than you burn up through daily activities and exercise. The excess calories are stored as fat. In some cases, obesity may be linked to a medical cause, but this is rare.
The most common causes of obesity are unhealthy eating habits and inactivity. When you aren’t active, you don’t burn off as many calories as someone who is. Also, if you have poor eating habits, you likely get too many calories from foods that are not good for you.
The primary goal of treating obesity is to bring your weight to a healthier level. This may involve a team of specialists, including a behavior counselor, dietician, and obesity specialist, who help you make needed changes.
One of the most common treatments is making dietary changes. There are many diets to choose from, and your physician can likely offer you suggestions. Some of the nutritional changes that may be considered are merely cutting the number of calories that you consume, learning to eat foods that make you feel full with fewer calories, and making healthier choices in what you consume.
Turning up the amount of activity that you get is another way to lose weight. Even just walking can make a significant difference over time. Getting in at least 150 minutes a week of physical activity at a moderate level can help avoid further weight gain. Also, merely making choices to be more active in everyday life can help with improving weight loss.
Other options include pharmacologic therapy that may help with weight loss. Finally there are weight loss procedures both endoscopic and surgical that may assist with weight loss. The most important aspect for success however is for a patient to choose to make a lifestyle change as no medication or intervention can do the work for them.
Are you interested in learning more about Obesity or other GI conditions? We invite you to contact us to learn more. Dr. Prashant Kedia is a therapeutic endoscopist and gastroenterologist serving patients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and beyond. Call today to schedule an appointment at (214) 941-6891.