Obesity is uniformly endorsed by physicians as America’s number one health concern, second only to smoking. The NIH estimates $125 billion is spent each year on obesity-related diseases. For the individual, over weight and obese persons pay on average $1,400 (42 percent) more in health care costs than normal-weight individuals. As few as 20 extra pounds can contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, musculoskeletal pain and diabetes.
The gold standard for shedding those extra pounds — eat less and exercise more – doesn’t work as well as touted, particularly for women in their 50s. In fact, nearly 90% of people who rely on dieting alone will gain back their weight within two years. And if they don’t stay in the battle to keep it off, by year 5, most will not only gain back what the lost, they will typically balloon to a weight above where they started.
Eating the right food is good, but many eat for the wrong reasons. For example, food can be used as a stress reliever, a reward or for consolation. Nibbling when you’re not hungry packs on the pounds.And everyone eats out frequently for work or for social functions will eat more than they do when eating alone.
How Doctors View Obesity
Recently, I watched an online presentation entitled “Emerging Strategies for Obesity” presented by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. I learned some interesting – and some troublesome – information about how physicians interact with their overweight patients.
The webinar discussed in detail a survey of 122 physicians who were asked to assess their interactions with overweight and obese patients. All of the physicians who responded to the survey conceded they had “no experience” in working with obese patients and reported “low confidence” when it came to discussing weight loss options with their patients. While 93% of older doctors attempted conversations with patients about their obesity-related disease, only 65% of younger doctors even advised patients to lose weight! Worse than just having little knowledge, younger doctors also have negative attitudes toward “quick weight loss programs,” including South Beach Diet and weight loss supplements.
The survey revealed that younger physicians have surprisingly negative attitudes toward extremely obese patients. Young doctors spent less time with overweight patients, order more tests and report feeling “annoyed” when they had to address their patient’s medical problems. (Imagine…You’re not feeling well and you self image probably isn’t stellar, yet your doctor finds you “bothersome” simply because you are obese!) Most disturbing, rarely did either age group refer obese patients to formal weight loss programs.
Health concerns with obesity
Medications, particularly antidepressants and drugs for type 2 diabetes, are among the most common causes of obesity. Many patients attribute low thyroid conditions to their obesity. While this is true in a fair number of cases — and we address this issue all the time at Tenpenny IMC — there are other reasons contributing to extra weight.
Excess abdominal fat is an independent risk factor for obesity-related illnesses and early mortality. While the BMI, body-mass index, is the gold standard for calculating risk, a simple assessment that can be done at home is waist circumference. For men, a waist circumference of more than 40 inches and for women, a waist of more than 35 inches, defines obesity.
While family doctors find it challenging to discuss obesity with a patient, to be fair, it is often a challenge for patients to discuss the “white elephant” in the exam room. Some patients even change doctors if the subject of weight loss is brought up. Everyone wants a “natural pill” and a “quick fix” for their health problems rather than working on the underlying cause: their extra weight.
I can affirm this is true. For example, I recently saw a new patient who was 5ft tall..and weighted nearly 200 pounds. She came with a host of physical complaints: knee pain, low back pain, snoring/not sleeping well, headaches, shortness of breath, hypertension, high cholesterol and mild diabetes. Despite this long list, her main issue was excessive fatigue. She was on eight prescription medication — one for each problem — and wanted a “more natural approach.” When I leveled with her that all her symptoms were likely due to the extra 100 pounds she was carrying around on her petite frame, her response was not good. At first she became very aggravated. Then she began to cry, accusing me of being “mean” and not wanting to help her. Even though we spent more than an hour discussing options for a healthier life and the programs we offer at the Clinic, she wanted no part of it. Sadly, I have not seen her since.
What can you do?
Permanent weight loss and restoration of health requires more than just going on a diet. What most people need is transformative program to change their life. After many months in development, Tenpenny Integrative Medical Center, is launching our trademarked program, THIN for REAL™ , a lifestyle and weight loss program.
Our physician-supervised program is directed by Dr. Cindy Fraed, MD who has lost more than 80 pounds using our approach. She truly “walks the talk” when it comes to THIN for REAL. Our program has two parts which can be completed separately or simultaneously. Part I, getting THIN, is designed to remove Toxicities, ensure adequate Hydration, and Identify missing nutrients and health risks with several extensive blood tests. Dr. Fraed will help you select the right Nutrition program, using either Medifast or prescription HCG, depending on your baseline blood profile and weight loss needs. Part II, is getting REAL with your life: Removing of toxic emotions, developing a tailored Exercise and stretching system, identification of hidden food Allergies and adding Lifestyle modifications that begin with having fun!
THIN for REAL is not only about weight loss. It is about becoming successful and happy in every area of your life! Our program is what you need if you want to get off that roller coaster, once and for all.