Obesity in America: How to Beat This Chronic Illness

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Adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more are considered obese.

Obesity is a global epidemic that has almost tripled since 1975, causing millions of worldwide deaths each year. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that in 2016, 650 million adults 18 years of age and older were obese, while a staggering 39 million children five years and younger were overweight or obese in 2020.

Obesity is also a significant health concern for adults and children in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of American adults and children are afflicted with this severe chronic condition. The CDC recommends seeking medical attention before obesity causes other chronic illnesses to develop or untimely deaths or disabilities.

This article will explain what obesity is, the causes of obesity, health-related issues linked to obesity, and how a family doctor in Katy, TX, can help improve your quality of life if you suffer from being overweight, obese, or have comorbidities of obesity.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is a severe chronic condition involving excessive body fat that can trigger long-term eating and mental health issues, reduce the quality of life, or cause premature deaths. Obesity was officially declared by the American Medical Association (AMA) in 2013 as a chronic disease that requires medical attention due to its connection to some of the leading causes of death such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and some forms of cancer.

What is Obesity BMI?

BMI stands for body mass index. It is an assessment tool used to screen individuals to determine if their weight is normal, underweight, overweight, or obese. Here’s how to calculate the BMI using the English system of weight in pounds (lbs.) and height in inches (in.):

BMI = 703 x Weight (lbs.) / Height ² (in.)

For example, an adult with a weight of 200 lbs. and a height of 60 in. would have a BMI of 39.06. This BMI would fall into the weight category of obesity.

BMI = 703 x 200 / 60 ²  = 39.06 is an obesity BMI

Data Source: CDC and National Institutes of Health

The CDC recommends that if your BMI is higher than the normal range of 18.5 – 24.9, you should contact a health care provider to help determine your risk factors for other medical-related issues and complications that may arise from being overweight or obese.

They advise against using the BMI assessment tool to determine your health without consulting a primary care provider. BMI can be an excellent screening tool, but it does not diagnose body fatness or health. Other factors may contribute to your health and wellness, such as nutrition, physical activity levels, medical and family history, environment, and lifestyle.

Furthermore, BMI measurements are different for adults than they are for children and teens. That’s why it’s essential to consult with a primary care provider to determine how best to deal with your weight-related concerns.

Obesity in America

Obesity is a widespread epidemic in the United States with no signs of decreasing any time soon but further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the CDC, the rate of obesity in America increased by an alarming 39%, while the morbid obesity rate increased by a staggering 96% in just 18 years.

Data Source: CDC

The increases in obesity rates will continue to cause a tremendous economic burden on the United States. The reason is treating obesity and comorbidities of obesity costs billions of dollars each year.

The CDC shares that in 2008, the annual medical costs of treating obesity in America were about $147 billion. But a recent study reports that the medical expenses to treat obesity are now well over $170 billion per year. The latest research highlights the importance of promoting healthy weight across all BMI levels for adults and children across the United States.

Causes of Obesity

Highly processed foods and sugary drinks are major contributors to the obesity epidemic.

The causes of obesity and weight gain are different for adults, teens, and children and can vary depending on a variety of environmental factors and lifestyle triggers that may include, but are not limited to:

  • A poor diet rich in saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, and sugar
  • Consuming sugary drinks such as sodas and juices instead of drinking water
  • A sedentary lifestyle with little to no physical activities
  • Lack of sleep (< 7- 8 hours for adults; < than 9-12 hours for children) each night
  • Too much stress leads to elevated cortisol levels triggering cravings for unhealthy foods 
  • Substance and alcohol abuse leads to consuming large quantities of fatty and sugary foods

In addition, psychological problems, prescription medications, family history, and genetics can also play a significant role in weight gain and obesity. Although obesity is a complex chronic illness, it is also a preventable and reversible disease. With the proper medical care and support, beating obesity and obesity-related conditions are possible.

Fight Obesity with Help from an Osteopathic Doctor 

It can be scary and overwhelming to know what to do when you have gained excessive weight or are fighting obesity on your own, especially without the proper medical diagnosis or support. Obese people are at higher risk of developing one or more dangerous and potentially life-threatening chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, stroke, heart disease, and some forms of cancer like gallbladder or prostate.  

When seeking medical assistance for a chronic illness like obesity, you should consider looking for a primary care doctor who uses a whole health approach, such as a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO). In contrast to a doctor of medicine (MD), a DO does more than treating the symptoms of your obesity. 

Osteopathic doctors work closely with patients to thoroughly understand their lifestyle, environment, mental health condition, family history, and other risk factors to determine the underlying causes of weight gain and eating disorders. This holistic, whole-body approach is invaluable for overweight and obese people because it ensures they get a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan based on their specific needs.

Let’s Beat Obesity Together!

Contact our Katy clinic to get the support you need to beat obesity and other weight-related issues.

Mason Park Medical is a patient-first primary care clinic in Katy dedicated to helping patients meet their health goals to improve their quality of life. If you or a family member is struggling with weight-related problems, we can help.

Our highly-trained general practitioners are experts at preventing and treating chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Our managing physician, Dr. Quyen Trinh, DO, is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for diabetes and heart/stroke management and care.

Another benefit of working with Mason Park Medical Clinic is having access to an on-site Registered Dietitian (RD) to help you fight obesity. Good nutrition is essential to a healthy lifestyle, especially for people battling obesity and other chronic illnesses.

An RD is a nutrition and food expert who knows how various foods can affect different medical conditions and can work with your general practitioner to personalize a healthy eating plan to manage or eliminate your obesity or obesity-related issues. In addition, most insurances cover RD services for patients with chronic conditions.

Don’t let obesity and other weight-related concerns control your life. Give us to call at (281) 646-0740 to schedule an appointment with one of our general practitioners. Let’s work together to give you the quality of life you want and deserve.