Obesity and Weight Management

Obesity

Obesity

Obese Woman Running in Park

Obesity is a complex health issue resulting from a combination of different factors either within the individual’s control or out of their control. These different factors include:

  • Hereditary factors/genetics

     

    • Medical science has shown that while not everyone that is obese inherited it from their parents, your genes can affect how you burn calories, how much fat your body stores and where fat is stored on your body.
  • Medical problems and medications

     

    • In some cases, the side effect of a medication can be weight gain. Research is also showing that poor sleep habits can have an effect on how much a person weighs.
    • In other cases, a person may have a hormone problem that causes them to be overweight/obese and makes it difficult for them to lose weight. Examples include: underactive thyroid, Cushing syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
  •  Environment

     

    • The individual’s environment can influence their ability to maintain a healthy weight in a myriad of ways. Some examples include: 
      • Not having parks, sidewalks or affordable gyms can make it hard for people to be physically active.
      • Oversized food portions lead to increased calorie intake and thus makes it even more necessary to be physically active.
      • Some communities in the U.S. are food deserts, meaning that here are communities where people don’t have access to supermarkets that sell affordable healthy foods.
      • A lot of the advertisements that we see on a daily basis push us towards unhealthy foods.

 

Obesity is a serious health issue because it is associated with poorer mental health outcomes and reduced quality of life. It is also associated with such leading causes of death as heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. In fact, obesity is associated with at least 13 types of cancer and about 30% of cancer survivors are diagnosed as obese. According to the CDC, 2 in 3 US adults weigh more than is recommended.

The health consequences of obesity are such that people with obesity when compared to those with healthy weight are at increased risk for the following: 

  • All-causes of death (mortality)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease 
  • Sleep apnea and breathing problems
  • Mental illnesses (i.e., clinical depression, anxiety…etc.)
  • Body pain and difficulty with physical functioning 

 

The management of obesity can include lifestyle changes, medications or surgery. However, the main treatment recommended for obese patients is weight loss through dieting and physical exercise. 

For help with weight loss and managing obesity, here are a list of Chicagoland area programs: 

  • University of Chicago Medicine’s Chicago Weight Team. They offer a medically supervised weight loss program that aims to help adults manage their weight and any medical conditions associated with having excess weight. 
  • Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children. This is a nationally recognized leader for community-based obesity prevention. Their focus areas range from food and beverage consumption to health education. 
  • Lurie Children’s Pediatric Wellness & Weight Management Center. This program provides compassionate and comprehensive care for the families of children and teenagers who are overweight or obese and are seeking help with making healthy and sustainable lifestyle changes. 
  • UI Health’s Weight Management Programs which features a healthcare team that works with patients to help diagnose and provide personal treatment options based on a patient’s needs. They offer both non-surgical and medical weight-loss options. 
  • Northwestern Medicines’ Center for Lifestyle Medicine which features lifestyle medicine specialists that work in partnership with the individual to help them set and achieve their health-related goals. Their services include: comprehensive weight management for adults who are overweight or obese, education strategies and skills to help with weight loss and tools to encourage healthy eating/improve physical activity.

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