The dictionary defines obesity as the condition of being grossly fat or overweight. Since the term is linked to poor health conditions, it carries a negative connotation. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) obesity is a common, serious, and costly disease that needs to be addressed. However, since weight is generally a private matter that may affect how we feel about ourselves, there are important emotional components to consider. The CDC is working hard to get rid of the stigma related to obesity and educate the public by stressing how important it is for people to be physically fit.
The CDC wants people to know that the prevalence of obesity-related conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even certain types of cancer, may be reduced by living more healthful lifestyles. Some deaths related to these conditions may also be preventable. Unfortunately, rates of obesity and severe obesity have been increasing. Thus, the annual medical costs in the United States related to those conditions have also been rising. From 1999-2000 through 2017-2018, U.S. obesity prevalence increased from 30.5% to 42.4% and occurrences of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%. Obesity plays a role in increasing severe illness and death in patients with COVID-19. In fact, the CDC warns that having obesity may triple the risk of hospitalization when infected with the virus. Thus, obesity may affect health outcomes.
Current studies show that people have also gained weight during lockdowns, likely tied to being more sedentary, failing to exercise, and making poor food choices for a variety of reasons, from economical to psychological causes like depression. For some, the pandemic has delivered a wake-up call for health. So, what can be done? There are three main points to consider. First, understand that bullying and shaming have no place in weight management discussions. Recently, American actress and television chef Valerie Bertinelli, opened a dialogue about body-shaming. She calls for people to have compassion and understanding. In her heartfelt acknowledgement of trouble with weight loss, the star brought renewed attention to diet culture, the U.S. weight-loss industry, beauty as defined by weight, personal responsibility for one’s health, and more. Second, it’s most important to focus on overall health and well-being than numbers on a scale. Working with a medical doctor or qualified nutritionist is beneficial to ensure that medical needs are met and to gain recommendations on nutrition and physical exercise. Third, weight loss must be recognized as a journey, not only physically, but mentally. With so much emphasis on youth and beauty in society, it is easy to feel lost or acquire a poor self-image. Since negative thoughts can have adverse health effects, one must stay focused on the positive and reach out for professional health if needed. Medical News Today describes a 2020 study whereby female participants who performed dance fitness exercises three times a week had improved markers of physical and mental health. Finding fun ways to stay active can not only enhance health, but mood as well.
It is well within our capabilities to adopt beneficial strategies to prevent obesity and related conditions. Rather than buy into “quick fixes” and questionable methods of weight loss, such as diet pills or restricted diets, staying centered on achieving overall and sustained wellness is more likely to lead to long-term health success. Introducing positive steps, such as reducing stress, cooking for wellness, eating healthier, and increasing exercise under proper guidance can provide the keys to keeping our bodies and minds energized, engaged, strong, and fit for life.
This article is purely informational and is not meant to replace professional medical advice.
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