Loving ourselves and taking care of our health to prevent or delay the onset of chronic conditions is an important aspect of our health.
This is the fourth part of a series focusing on lifestyle management for the prevention of vascular disease. In previous columns, we’ve addressed smoking cessation, blood pressure regulation, and the importance of sugar control. This month, we’ll look at the role of obesity in the prevention of vascular disease and how we can make lifestyle choices that can prevent or delay the onset of obesity.
The World Health Organization defines obesity as “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health.” The disease of obesity affects more than one-third of U.S. adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC uses body mass index, or a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters, to measure obesity. Individuals with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered to have obesity.
Obesity has long been a topic of bias and stigma. While public perception is slowly shifting, many people (including nearly half of healthcare professionals) still assume that obesity is the individual’s fault, solely the result of them eating too much and getting less exercise. Obesity is a disease caused by a complex interplay among genetics, the environment, and many other factors. Furthermore, recent studies have demonstrated that there are 236 other diseases impacted by obesity, 13 of which are cancers.
The treatment of obesity includes behavioral and nutritional interventions, medical treatment, and even surgery (bariatric surgery).
The recognition of obesity as a disease also distinguishes obesity as something to be taken seriously. For most people suffering with obesity, simply eating less and moving more will not result in sustainable long-term weight loss. A person is no more at fault for developing obesity than they are at fault for developing heart disease or high blood pressure. A person with obesity deserves the same respect and compassionate healthcare.
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