Obesity is a common condition that we see in the population today.
It’s a body mass index of greater than 30, and this includes excess fat that will increase your risk of health concerns.
This is in a variety of areas. If you have an elevated body mass index, you’re at risk of a variety of medical conditions. These include increased risk of cardiovascular disease, increased risk of diabetes, you may exhibit sleep apnea, which is a significant medical concern. You can have osteoarthritis of the joints, of the lower body, and finally, it increased your risk of cancers in a variety of types.
If you think that you may have a body mass index that’s elevated it is important to speak with your family physician. There is a few reasons for this: one may be a balance between calories going in and expenditure of what you’re doing with your fitness, and expenditure of calories.
However, there’s also endocrine disorders that can be involved with obesity, such as hypothyroidism and these can be tested for with certain blood tests. In addition, there is psychiatric illness that can be associated with obesity.
If you feel that you have elevated body mass index or your weight is above normal it’s important to speak with your family physician.
Medications For Weight Loss
We know obesity is a chronic disease. We know that obesity is a lifelong disease. We understand that obesity not only is difficult because we need to restrict our calorie intake, but we need to be more active.
Recommendations say we should do about 150 minutes of exercise—moderate intensity—per week, and we should restrict caloric intake by about 500 to 800 kilocalories, to have significant weight loss. The problem is with weight loss, our body adapts, and it wants to regain the weight.
And how does it adapt is by hormonal shifting, and by promoting what we call ‘hedonic eating.’ Hedonic eating is the pleasure of food. It can be associated with quicker regain. Now imagine: you’ve worked hard, you’ve lost weight, and all of a sudden now, your body’s playing a trick on you in two ways. Number one, it increases appetite—imagine that, and number two, it increases your joy and your drive to eat.
Now that is where the medication that we have can be really helpful. Some people are able to control their urges, and that’s great for them, but most of us have problems controlling urges—especially when they’re triple and quadruple what they used to be.
Now, there’s medication out there that you’re going to be able to approach with your family physician, but there’s medication to help dampen this urge to eat. And there’s a second medication that actually controls appetite. Now let me give you a sneak peek at what they do. First one actually decreases the urge, so it works with your hedonic eating—the pleasure food, the drive to go get your bag of chips, the drive to go out of your house to go get some food at the grocery store; the drive. So it reduces that, so it’s easier to control, to manage.
The second one reduces appetite. Now, when we eat, our system sends a signal to our brain, telling us we just ate, we just took in food, we can actually stop eating. The problem is when we lose weight, that signalization is lost. Now there’s some medication, it’s hormonal medication, that we can actually take in and replace this lack of signalization.
For more information on medication, food choices, physical activity recommendations, ask your family physician, and remember obesity is lifelong—these changes, they have to be sustainable.
Local Practitioners: Family Doctor
Tasha Bienert, MD, discusses obesity causes and treatments.
Dr. Alexandro Zarruk, MD, MSc., FACP, FRCPC, Internal Medicine, talks about medications that can help patients lose weight.
Dr. Richard Bebb, MD, ABIM, FRCPC, Endocrinologist, discusses medical risks of obesity.
Crystal Higgins, Registered Dietitian, talks about uncovering eating cues and triggers in your environment.