Obesity Screening And Management
While most people think of epidemics as events centered around disease outbreaks, the reality is that obesity is one of the leading epidemics in the United States. Recent estimates show the incidence of obesity in the US was 41.9% between 2017 and 2020. This figure has increased significantly in recent years. With obesity linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers, proper screening and management are critical to improving health outcomes.
What is obesity screening?
The most common method for obesity screening is to take a patient’s vitals. Typically, a physician will collect the height and weight and measure the waist circumference. Obesity is traditionally determined by combining these measurements to calculate body mass index (BMI). Individuals with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered to be obese. Meanwhile, people with a BMI of 25 to 30 are considered overweight, another prevalent condition in the US.
Predisposition to obesity
While obesity can happen to any individual, research continues to point to a predisposition in specific subsets of the population. A recent study found individuals identifying as non-Hispanic Black, Hispanic, and Mexican American tend to have higher obesity rates than non-Hispanic white adults.
The food relationship
Obesity management refers to a holistic treatment plan designed to help a patient lose weight and redefine the relationship with food. The main goal is to reduce caloric intake and the incidence of other health conditions. People who undergo this treatment should also better understand the reasons for consuming excess calories and how to make healthier food choices.
Treatment is available
Recommended treatment methods can vary depending on the severity of a patient’s weight. For example, while some people may be encouraged to focus on a traditional caloric deficit-based meal plan, others may need more serious interventions like medications or surgery. Regardless of the treatment recommended, all patients are encouraged to engage in exercise and undergo counseling to understand and adapt previous relationships with food. Pinpointing the why behind dietary choices can be beneficial to not just initially lose weight but make necessary lifelong changes to maintain health.
A marathon, not a sprint
Most people don’t become obese overnight. Likewise, people should understand that reversing course to achieve a healthier BMI and relationship with food will be a process. While setbacks are common, individuals can take steps to create a supportive community to achieve long-term weight loss goals. Along with seeking medical support, consider participating in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or joining groups to provide the emotional support needed to stay the course.