The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Alabama was the 4th most obese state in 2011. Their data showed that 32% of Alabamians have a Body Mass Index of over 30, qualifying them as obese.

Now, I realize that there is some contention on how accurate a measurement BMI is, but regardless, 32% is still WAY too high. So, I'm not discarding that there's a problem.

Over the past twenty years, our country has seen an extreme growth in obesity. Whereas not one state had an obesity rate over 15% two decades ago, now 2/3 of the states have obesity rates over 25%.

And obesity has become a major factor in our society. With all of the negative health effects that obesity has on an individual, when you roll that out to the population, it is a huge burden on our economy - health care costs rise because of demand and worker productivity goes down because we are sick more often.

So... it's a problem.

What is so bad about being obese? Well, a lot...

  • It can give you high blood pressure.
  • Cause you to develop type 2 diabetes.
  • A major factor in our #1 killer - heart disease.
  • Cause pain and osteoarthritis in your joints.
  • Respiratory issues.
  • Cancer risk increases for men and women.
  • Metabolic syndrome.
  • And it can also make a person feel less confident in themselves and suffer from social anxiety.

If you are obese or on the edge of it, these are concerning items. And if you want to put your body in a place where you won't have to be concerned, you need to take action.

Now, the easy thing for me to say is, "Well, don't become obese." But we all know that it's not that easy. There are hundreds of diets, different exercise programs, and late-night infomercials telling you that you can lose weight in no time.

And when you don't see the results you want immediately, you want to give up.

Don't do that. Talk to your doctor about an exercise program that you and your body can handle. Provide a good description of your lifestyle to your doctor (are you in the car a lot, stuck in a cubicle all day, have kids that have to be fed, etc.) and see if they can't out together a plan for you to make some adjustments in your diet. Sometimes we just need to be pointed in the right direction.

If I can do a quick shameless plug - try checking out UAB's EatRight program. Whatever the amount of weight you need to lose is, it has a program for you.

Most importantly, set some goals for yourself. The goals have to work for you - because YOU are the one that has to lose the weight. Develop the mindset that you WANT to get healthier. This is what helps when you hit that wall. You don't see those super-immediate results? Keep fighting.

All of those effects of obesity listed above? Those are goals as well. Trust me, you don't want high blood pressure, respiratory issues, arthritis, or any of the others either. None of that is fun.

A few small lifestyle changes you can do to help:

(Again, discuss with your doctor first - just to be sure.)

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. You can do it.
  • Get out a few times a week and play in the yard with the kids or grandkids. (Kids have tons of energy, and they are into having fun. Whether if it is tag, basketball, or just roaming around - kids can help you keep moving.)
  • Do some yard work. (That is, turn off the TV for 30 minutes and go out outside. If you don't have a yard, go for a walk.)
  • If you are a snacker at work - bring some cut-up fruit with you to work. Leave that vending machine alone.
  • Park on the far side of the parking lot. (How far would you walk across that lot over the course of a year? I think you'd be surprised with how far.)
  • And one more good one - if you are going to a social event where there will be finger foods (usually high-calorie items), eat a healthy meal prior so that you don't arrive hungry.

If you or someone close to you is obese, think about how your/their life would change if they were healthier. We need to reverse this obesity trend. A better, healthier life is obtainable.

Take care,
Dr. Mohanned Azzam