Lose weight to reverse disease

December 20, 2022

Primary Care Wellness
Female leg stepping on weigh scales with measuring tape

Excess body fat and obesity can lead to many common chronic health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction. Obesity occurs when you have too much body fat for your height.

“You don’t have to live with obesity-related health problems forever. You can actually reverse some diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure with weight loss,” says Jonathan M. Sardina, D.O., a family medicine physician with Riverside Internal Medicine Associates of Gloucester.

Doctors use Body Mass Index (BMI), a measure of weight compared to height, to screen for excess weight and obesity. You can use the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s calculator to find your BMI. 

  • Obese: BMI is 30.0 or higher
  • Overweight: BMI is 25.0 to 29.9 
  • Healthy Weight: BMI is 18.5 to 24.9
  • Underweight: BMI of 18.5 or lower

Extra calories cause obesity and health problems 

While many factors contribute to obesity, eating too much and not moving enough are the primary causes. When you eat more calories than you need, your body stores the excess calories for later in the form of fat.

Extra calories from large portions and foods such as soda, desserts and fried foods, strain your vital organs, including the liver, pancreas and heart. They cannot keep up with processing all the calories.

Fat accumulates around the midsection, under the skin and around vital organs such as blood vessels and the liver. Those deposits can lead to fatty liver and heart disease. In addition, the extra weight puts pressure on your heart and lungs, which have to work harder to deliver blood and oxygen. 

Obesity increases the risk of severe COVID-19 

In addition to chronic conditions, obesity increases your risk for severe COVID-19.

“Being obese triples your risk of being hospitalized for COVID-19,” says Dr. Sardina.

Lifestyle habits that lead to obesity, such as drinking sugar-sweetened beverages, eating fried foods and not being active, can make your immune system less effective, so it must work harder to fight off bacteria, viruses and infections. And extra body fat decreases your lung capacity making breathing more difficult.

Reverse disease and boost immunity with weight loss 

The good news is you can prevent and sometimes even reverse nearly all health problems associated with obesity by losing weight. In many cases, an obesity-related diagnosis such as diabetes is not a life sentence. Research shows you can improve conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis and erectile dysfunction with weight loss. Even better, you’ll feel improvements immediately after making lifestyle changes and improving your diet. 

Focus on the fundamentals for lasting weight loss 

Several fad diets can help you lose weight; however, research shows you don’t need an extreme diet. Crash dieters often regain more weight in the long run. The main requirement for successful weight loss is eating less and moving more.

The National Weight Control Registry keeps track of over 10,000 people who have lost at least 30 pounds and kept the weight off for one year or more. According to their research, the most common habits among successful weight losers include:

  • Daily exercise
  • Keeping a food journal
  • Weekly weigh-in
  • Watching less than 10 hours of TV per week
  • Eating breakfast
  • Preparing foods at home and eating fewer packaged foods

“To lose weight, focus on one simple change at a time. Keeping track of what you’re eating can be a great first step to help you understand your current habits and what needs to change,” says Dr. Sardina. 

In addition, eating foods high in protein and fiber will fill you up and provide more nutrients with fewer calories, so you can eat less without feeling hungry. Foods that fit this profile include leafy greens and other vegetables, fruits, beans, chicken, fish and low-fat dairy products. The DASH diet is one plan that can help you embrace a heart-healthy diet and manage your weight. It incorporates many high-protein, high-fiber foods and can help you lose weight and lower your blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol.

Take charge of your health and start feeling better today

Don’t wait another day to get your health back on track. Lifestyle changes that help you lose weight can make a difference. If you are ready to start, make an appointment with Dr. Sardina today! 

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