Peel Off the Pounds and Live Healthy

Brad Butler, MD – Family Medicine

Obesity has become a common, serious and costly problem in America.  More than one-third of all U.S. adults are considered to be obese, weighing 20 percent or more above a healthy weight for their age and height.  The results of this nation-wide epidemic are staggering.  The number of people suffering from conditions associated with obesity – heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer – has skyrocketed, and the medical costs associated with obesity are estimated at more than $150 billion annually.

Obesity is a simple condition to understand.  It occurs when a person consumes more calories than he or she burns. For many people, this boils down to eating too much and exercising too little. But there are other factors that also play a role in obesity. As you age, your body’s ability to metabolize food slows down, and you do not require as many calories to maintain your weight.

Other factors that affect weight gain include:

  • Gender: Women tend to struggle with weight gain more than men because they have a naturally slower metabolic rate.
  • Genetics: Obesity tends to run in families. If your biological mother is heavy as an adult, there is approximately a 75% chance that you will be heavy.
  • Physical Activity: Active individuals require more calories than less active ones to maintain their weight.
  • Psychological factors also influence eating habits and obesity. Many people eat in response to negative emotions such as boredom, sadness, or anger.
  • There are some illnesses that can cause obesity. These include hormone problems such as hypothyroidism and depression.
  • Certain medications, such as steroids and some antidepressants, may cause excessive weight gain.

So what can you do to lose weight and keep it off?  First, discuss the issue with your doctor, who can offer suggestions about your calorie intake and exercise plans.  Second, start writing down everything you eat in a food journal.  This will give you a clear view of what you are eating, when you are eating, and why you are eating.  If you can, meet with a nutritionist to review your food journaling.  She can provide information about where your diet is lacking and how to make smarter food choices.  And finally, get moving!  As I mentioned before, you must burn more calories than you consume if you want to lose weight.  Find activities that you enjoy, and have fun!  Follow these tips, and the pounds will start to peel off before you know it!

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