Drew Payne, Do
Weight is a major influence on a person’s overall health, which may be why over 48% of Americans named weight loss as their New Year’s Resolution last year. However, there is a misconception that excess weight is a cosmetic defect and not a disease.
For many patients, weight control is often associated with cultural influences. Whether we like it or not, food plays an important role in our lives beyond providing our bodies with fuel for burning. In fact, challenge yourself to name an event in your life that you didn’t mourn or celebrate with food.
As clinicians, we don’t describe patients as obese. Instead, we refer to the person as obese. Similarly, a hypertensive patient has high blood pressure. They do not have high blood pressure.
To determine if a patient is obese, we use a measure known as the Body Mass Index (BMI) which is based on a person’s height and weight. A BMI between 18.5 and 25 is considered a healthy weight. A BMI of 25-30 is considered overweight, and a BMI above 30 is considered one of the three categories of obesity: Class 1 (30-35 BMI), Class 2 (35-40 BMI) and Class 3 (over 40 BMI). the body ).
When your BMI exceeds 25, it can begin to affect areas like the hips and knees where extra weight equates to extra stress. It can also affect liver and kidney function, sleep habits, and mental health.
Almost everyone has tried at least one fad diet, and while these quick-fix diets were initially promising, they usually had short-term success. Many also believe that exercise plays an equal role as diet, and despite its importance, exercise should be considered a tool for weight control rather than a panacea for weight loss. If you’re going to exercise for 30 minutes five times a week, you’ll be disappointed that it won’t drop huge numbers from your BMI.
Instead, hormones are the most important influence on weight, in addition to calories. In fact, hormones are the primary reason why some people lose weight easily and others don’t. Hormones are also the reason why males lose weight more easily than females.
Certain medical conditions — and some of the medications used to treat those conditions — can be factors in weight management. For example, a type 2 diabetic may struggle to lose weight, while a type 1 diabetic cannot gain a pound, no matter how much they eat.
Despite these challenges, there are steps we can take to achieve a more healthy weight. The first is paying attention to our goals and listening to our bodies. Before eating lunch, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry or am I eating because I’m supposed to have lunch at noon?”
There is also a system known as the red-yellow-light-green light system that is used as an eating guide. Reaching the red light means that the person has just finished eating and is full. When one reaches the yellow light, they might think, “Hey, I ate a little while ago, but those crackers smell good.” The green light stage is when a person is hungry and needs to eat.
Weight management can also become more successful when we have an accountability partner with whom we can share your weight management journey. Accountability can help keep a person focused on their goal, which should be achieving a steady, healthy 5% to 10% weight loss that can be maintained over time. That’s when the healthy changes start to happen. We’re starting to see a reduction in insulin resistance and improvements in biomarkers and blood chemistry.
Once some of these changes occur, and we also see some positive changes on the scales, weight management can become a healthy way of living rather than a broken solution.
Drew Payne, D.O., is an internal medicine physician at the Texas Tech Physicians and Texas Tech Physicians Weight Management Clinic. He is also an associate professor at the Texas Tech University Health Science Center School of Medicine.