Despite our country’s obsession with weight loss, obesity continues to be a national concern. Over the past two decades, adult obesity has increased nearly 10%, and childhood obesity has increased nearly 5%.
A person is considered obese if their body mass index (BMI) is over 30, and morbidly obese if their BMI is over 40. Carrying extra pounds is more than just a vanity issue—obesity is directly linked to multiple chronic diseases and health conditions.
A spectrum of conditions
According to James Augusta, DO, bariatric surgeon with Kettering Health Network, obesity is related to dozens of medical comorbidities. “These can include high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, sleep apnea, and even some cancers,” says Dr. Augusta.
Weight loss can make a huge difference in improving a person’s overall health and losing weight looks different for everyone. However, some key general guidelines can help you start improving your quality of life today.
Find your favorite activity
Exercise is a key component of weight loss and an overall healthy lifestyle. Aim to complete some form of exercise three to five times per week for at least 30 minutes per session.
“Find an activity you enjoy,” says Dr. Augusta. “If the exercise is something you hate doing, you’ll never find the time to do it.”
Dr. August also points out that it’s important for patients to continue to push themselves. “When patients are just starting an exercise routine, especially those with a BMI over 40, any exercise will feel difficult. Start with simple exercises, like walking, to build up stamina. Eventually, as your body gets accustomed to the activity level, continue to increase intensity to get the heart rate up.”
For those who struggle with joint pain, Dr. Augusta recommends low-impact activities that still increase the heart rate, such as water aerobics.
Calories in, calories out
Just like with exercise, there are a variety of diets to follow that will help people achieve weight loss.
In general, avoiding fast foods, sodas, and highly processed foods will help people shed extra pounds. Drink plenty of water and aim for three to five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
Start the conversation early
Anyone struggling with weight loss should start talking about their concerns early on.
“Initiating an open dialogue with your primary care provider helps a lot,” says Dr. Augusta. “If a person does wish to pursue bariatric surgery, then having those documented conversations about weight loss with your primary care physician can help with insurance approval.
“Getting started early is key. Research on your own, improve your diet, and talk to your family physician. The biggest take-home point is that weight loss has proven to be lifesaving.”