IN YOUR PRIME: How to prevent obesity and achieve better health in retirement

Credit: Justin Sullivan

Credit: Justin Sullivan

Despite our country’s obsession with weight loss, obesity continues to be a national concern. Nearly 40% of adults are considered obese.

A person is considered obese if their body mass index (BMI) is over 30, and morbidly obese if their BMI is over 40. Carrying extra pounds is more than just a vanity issue—obesity is directly linked to multiple chronic diseases and health conditions.

A spectrum of conditions

According to Dr. Carey Brown, bariatric surgeon with Kettering Health, obesity is related to dozens of medical comorbidities. “These can include high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, sleep apnea, and even some cancers,” says Dr. Brown.

Weight loss can make a huge difference in improving a person’s overall health and losing weight looks different for everyone. However, some key general guidelines can help you start improving your quality of life today.

Find your favorite activity

Exercise is a key component of weight loss and an overall healthy lifestyle. Aim to complete some form of exercise three to five times per week for at least 30 minutes per session.

“Find an activity you enjoy,” says Dr. Brown. “If the exercise is something you hate doing, you’ll never find the time to do it.”

Dr. Brown also points out that it’s important for patients to continue to push themselves. “When patients are just starting an exercise routine, especially those with a BMI over 40, any exercise will feel difficult. Start with simple exercises, like walking, to build up stamina. Eventually, as your body gets accustomed to the activity level, continue to increase intensity to get the heart rate up.”

For those who struggle with joint pain, Dr. Brown recommends low-impact activities that still increase the heart rate, such as water aerobics.

Calories in, calories out

Just like with exercise, there are a variety of diets to follow that will help people achieve weight loss.

In general, avoiding fast foods, sodas, and highly processed foods will help people shed extra pounds. Drink plenty of water and aim for three to five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

Start the conversation early

Anyone struggling with weight loss should start talking about their concerns early on.

“Initiating an open dialogue with your primary care provider helps a lot,” says Dr. Brown. “If a person does wish to pursue bariatric surgery, then having those documented conversations about weight loss with your primary care physician can help with insurance approval.

“Getting started early is key. Research on your own, improve your diet, and talk to your family physician. The biggest take-home point is that weight loss has proven to be lifesaving.”

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