The last 18 months have been a challenging time on many levels. One of the COVID-19 pandemic’s unfortunate ripple effects has been a rise in U.S. obesity rates. According to a new study from the Trust For America’s Health, the pandemic has limited our opportunities for physical activity, changed eating habits, and increased food insecurity, all of which contribute to obesity. That study showed that 16 states now have obesity rates at or above 35 percent in 2020, up from 12 states in 2019.
According to the CDC’s most recent pre-COVID survey, U.S. obesity was at 42 percent, up 12 percent since 2000. It’s a public health crisis, bringing higher death rates and skyrocketing healthcare costs. But how do you know if you’re obese or just need to lose a few pounds? And what if your weight is causing other health problems? How can you take charge of your weight as part of an effort to improve overall health? With support from your primary care provider, it’s possible to tackle extra weight with positive physical and mental health results.
How Do I Know If My Weight Is Healthy?
The CDC has established guidelines for healthy weight using the Body Mass Index tool. BMI divides your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters, focusing on height and weight ratio. While BMI doesn’t specifically identify fat levels in your body, it’s an effective tool for identifying obesity and predicting many adverse health outcomes associated with extra weight. For adults 20 and older, a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. We define overweight as a BMI of 25 to 29.9 and obesity as a BMI of 30 or above. For example, if a person is 5’9”, a healthy weight would range from 125 to 168 pounds. We’d consider that person obese if their weight reached 203 pounds. You can calculate your BMI using the CDC website and discuss the issue with your provider at your next checkup.
Does It Really Matter If I’m Overweight?
The CDC classifies obesity as a serious chronic disease. Obesity costs the U.S. healthcare system $147 billion per year, according to CDC calculations. And medical costs for people who have obesity were $1,429 higher than costs for people with a healthy weight. While some individuals can remain healthy while carrying extra weight, there are clear links between obesity and severe health conditions. Healthy weight loss should be a priority to prevent chronic illness and support a longer life.
What Are The Risks To Health From Obesity?
Obesity means a greater chance of illness and premature death. It’s linked to some of our most challenging diagnoses and life-altering chronic diseases, including:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Some types of cancer, including endometrial, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, and liver cancers
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Sleep apnea and breathing problems
- Body pain and trouble moving
Obesity is also linked to mental illness, including clinical depression and anxiety. And while we treat mental health conditions from several perspectives, losing weight can help as part of a multi-pronged approach. Obesity and extra weight also increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19, according to the CDC.
How Can I Take Control of My Weight?
The best ways to fight obesity and control your weight are good nutrition and increasing physical activity. But these can be more challenging than we think, especially when chronic illness is involved. Other barriers to weight loss include limited access to healthy foods (including neighborhoods considered ‘food deserts’), increased food insecurity during the pandemic and related shutdowns, lack of access to parks and recreational facilities and a lack of awareness about nutrition. As primary care providers, one of our roles is to help patients address excess weight and obesity by providing support and accountability. Patients are often motivated to lose weight on their own using nutrition apps and fitness trackers and teaming up with friends for support and encouragement. However, for others, regular help from a healthcare provider can make all the difference.
Helping patients stay healthy, including working toward weight loss when needed, is a priority at Comprehensive Primary Care. We take a holistic approach to weight loss, with a focus on health and well-being. We offer highly effective nutrition and fitness programming, working with insurers to keep out-of-pocket expenses lower. Insurance coverage is more common than many patients realize, especially when obesity is associated with other health conditions. Did you know that insurance companies often cover weight management for patients with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, and other chronic conditions? Insurance companies understand that patients with a healthy lifestyle usually require fewer medical interventions.
Comprehensive Primary Care’s medical weight loss programming takes a lifestyle approach that includes support and accountability. We offer a provider-run weight management program, regular workshops for patients, and nutritional consultations. Our master’s level dietician/nutritionist has helped countless patients take control of their weight. Our personalized, judgment-free approach focuses on patient health in a respectful and supportive atmosphere.