Obesity, like heart attack, diabetes, dementia and cancer, is a disease that destroys lives. Speaking out against it isn't intended to shame anyone, but rather, to save them. It's just like when we talk about diet, exercise and stress management as ways to avoid American's No. 1 killer, heart disease. No one, we hope, feels personally attacked when we say that you should eliminate most saturated fat from your diet because it causes plaque in your blood vessels that can lead to heart attack and stroke. But talking to you about obesity, well, that can be more difficult.
We love that Lizzo is proud and loud, and oh, so talented. But 20 years from now, she is going to be faced with some serious health issues if she doesn't address the risks that come with being seriously overweight (around 308 pounds). That's why we are dedicated to helping you love yourself while encouraging you to face the health challenges caused by obesity.
Why it matters
From 1999/2000 through 2017/2018, the prevalence of obesity in U.S. adults increased from 30.5 percent to 42.4 percent; severe obesity increased from 4.7 percent to 9.2 percent. Obesity is a disease that's linked to a whole menu of other health problems. For example:
- Dementia: A study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology indicates that if you are obese in your 50s and beyond, you have a 31 percent increased risk of dementia compared with folks with a healthy weight.
- Diabetes: Studies show that women with a body mass index of 30 (signifying obesity) are at a 28 times greater risk of developing diabetes than women of normal weight. Their risk of diabetes is 93 times greater if the BMI is 35. For men, the risk is also increased.
- Osteoarthritis: One study reported that a BMI of 30+ led to a seven-fold increase in the risk for knee osteoarthritis. And for every five units' increase in BMI (say, from 30 to 35) the risk of knee osteoarthritis goes up 35 percent and the risk of hip osteoarthritis by 11 percent.
- Heart disease: In the Nurses' Health Study, obesity was associated with a nearly 100 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease in men and women. In another review and meta-analysis of 1.2 million participants and 37,488 cases of coronary heart disease, obesity was associated with a nearly 60 percent higher risk.
And obesity is not just your problem. Research is showing that the health repercussions of obesity pass down through the generations. An obese mother raises the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity in her children. There's also a great risk of neural tube defects in the baby. A lab study found that when a mother mouse is obese, multiple generations are then at risk for liver cancer.
Fortunately, you can achieve a healthy weight. The first step: Tell yourself you're worth the effort it takes to get healthier. That will help you revise your lifestyle so that you're getting much more physical activity and eating a plant-based diet with no fried or highly processed foods, red meats or added sugars. Then ...
- Consider joining a support group and signing up with a nutritionist who can guide your dietary choices. Folks who have a team behind them lose more weight and have better luck keeping it off.
- You might try cognitive behavioral therapy. It's been shown to help change eating and activity habits, making it easier to lose weight.
- Start a stress management program (meditation or yoga, for example) and add a post-dinner walk.
- Sign up with a physical trainer or physical therapist to get you into the swing of exercising regularly.
We recommend combining support, a nutritionist, CBT, stress management and a trainer. Meeting the challenges of vanquishing obesity takes time, dedication and a team. But the rewards are life-saving and life-changing. Check out the detailed programs at DoctorOz.com (System 20) and Cleveland Clinic Obesity and Medical Weight Loss Center.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.