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IS Obesity Really that Bad? - Yes!! In Every Way, and at Any Age.

In this piece, I will not define obesity or overweight. If your waist is too big; and/or you are out of shape and are a woman or a man who weighs more than 150 pounds or 250 pounds respectively, then almost certainly you are obese. Your physician can help you determine by how much, as there are person-to-person variables to consider. Medical science has clearly demonstrated that obesity contributes significantly to poor health. Conversely, medical science has demonstrated that weight loss, even slow and small, will almost always at least attenuate illness. Frequently, weight loss and conditioning will reverse or cure illness. This really is so!! Here are some of the deleterious medical entities that derive from obesity: -adult onset diabetes (almost guaranteed) -high blood pressure (also almost guaranteed) -depression -gallstone disease -obstructive sleep disorder ("sleep apnea") -accelerated degenerative arthritis (especially of the low back, knees, and hips) -cancers (especially of the breast, but many others as well) -gastroesophageal reflux -bladder incontinence -polycystic ovaries disease (a common cause of infertility) -abnormal cholesterol profile -chronic swelling of legs and feet Many of the above cause, in turn, other complications, some of which are: -heart failure -kidney failure -stroke -peripheral vascular disease -skin changes of the legs (venostasis)

-massive swellings of the lower extremities (lymphedema) -pulmonary hypertension -sexual dysfunction Then there are also the losses of self esteem and dignity that obesity causes. Remember, each of us, to the most reasonable extent possible, has the obligation to maximize his or her own good health, and to enjoy life. Obesity can and should be treated. Proper diet and exercise- BOTH!!-- are necessary. All currently approved medications for obesity, both prescription and over-the-counter, are NOT very good. All are expensive; all have significant side effects; and none by themselves tend to produce on average more than a 5 to 10 pound weight loss per year. Proper diet is a big subject that I will not discuss in detail here. There are no magic diets. Good foods, in variety, and in modest portions are always in order. Nothing else is really necessary. The resources listed below can advise you further about specific foods, calorie counts, and nutritional values. Surgical procedures to promote weight loss are expensive and dangerous; although, for select patients, these are perhaps the best interventions. Proper diet and exercise will still be necessary after these procedures, as the procedures themselves do not guarantee ideal weight and fitness. Exercise should be regular (5 or 6 days per week), and should ideally combine three components in the regimen: aerobic (e.g. running, walking, hiking, bicycling, gardening, etc), resistance (e.g. weight training), and stretching (e.g. yoga, etc). Highly intense workouts are not necessary, and might even be counter-productive for senior citizens. For exercise, regularity and completeness are the most important elements. Your best resources to lose weight and get in shape include your physician, health clubs, nutritionists, physical therapists, skilled personal trainers, and support groups such as "weight watchers". Eli Goodman, MD

(This piece appeared several years ago on the senior citizens resource website:

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