At Inventional Cardiac Consultants patient education is very important to us. It allows our health professionals and others impart information to our patients and their caregivers that will alter their health behaviors or improve their health status.

Obesity

Overweight and obesity are increasingly common conditions in the United States. They are caused by the increase in the size and the amount of fat cells in the body. Doctors measure body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference to screen and diagnose overweight and obesity. Obesity is a serious medical condition that can cause complications such as metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart disease, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, cancers and sleep disorders. Treatment depends on the cause and severity of your condition and whether you have complications. Treatments include lifestyle changes, such as heart-healthy eating and increased physical activity, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved weight-loss medicines. For some people, surgery may be a treatment option.

There are no specific symptoms of overweight and obesity. The signs of overweight and obesity include a high body mass index (BMI) and an unhealthy body fat distribution that can be estimated by measuring your waist circumference. Obesity can cause complications in many parts of your body.

High Body Mass Index (BMI)
A high BMI is the most common sign of overweight and obesity.

Weight Category BMI
Children
BMI
Adult
Underweight Below 5th percentile Below 18.5
Healthy Weight 5th percentile to less than 85th percentile 18.5 to 24.9
Overweight 85th percentile to less than 95th percentile 25 to 25.9
Obese 95th percentile or above 30 or above
*A child’s BMI percentile is calculated by comparing your child’s BMI to growth charts for children who are the same age and sex as your child.

Unhealthy body fat distribution
Another sign of overweight and obesity is having an unhealthy body fat distribution. Fatty tissue is found in different parts of your body and has many functions. Having an increased waist circumference suggests that you have increased amounts of fat in your abdomen. An increased waist circumference is a sign of obesity and can increase your risk for obesity-related complications.

Did you know that fatty tissue has different functions depending on its location in your body? Visceral fat is the fatty tissue inside of your abdomen and organs. While we do not know what causes the body to create and store visceral fat, it is known that this type of fat interferes with the body’s endocrine and immune systems and promotes chronic inflammation and contributes to obesity-related complications.

Complications
Obesity may cause the following complications:
  • Metabloic Syndrome
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood cholesterol and high triglyceride levels in the blood
  • Diseases of the heart and blood vessels such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart attacks and stroke
  • Respiratory problems such as obstructive sleep apnea , asthma, and obesity hypoventilation syndrome
  • Back Pain
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
  • Osteoarthritis, a chronic inflammation that damages the cartilage and bone in or around the affected joint. It can cause mild or severe pain and usually affects weight-bearing joints in people who are obese. It is a major cause of knee replacement surgery in patients who are obese for a long time.
  • Urinary incontinence, the unintentional leakage of urine. Chronic obesity can weaken pelvic muscles, making it harder to maintain bladder control. While it can happen to both sexes, it usually affects women as they age.
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Emotional health issues such as low self-esteem or depression. This may commonly occur in children.
  • Cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, colon, rectum, kidney, endometrium, ovaries, gallbladder, breast, or liver.

Treatment for overweight and obesity depends on the cause and severity of your condition. Possible treatments include healthy lifestyle changes, behavioral weight-loss treatment programs, medicines, and possibly surgery. You may need treatments for any complications that you have.

Healthy lifestyle changes
To help you aim for and maintain a healthy weight, your doctor may recommend that you adopt lifelong healthy lifestyle changes.
  • Heart-healthy eating. Learn about which foods and nutrients are part of a healthy eating pattern. It’s important to eat the right amount of calories to maintain a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, try to reduce your total daily calories gradually. Use a Body Weight Planner to find out your daily calorie needs and to set goals. Talk with your doctor before beginning any diet or eating plan.
  • Physical activity. Many health benefits are associated with physical activity and getting the recommended amount of physical activity needed each week. Physical activity is an important factor in determining whether a person can maintain a healthy body weight, lose excess body weight, or maintain successful weight loss. Before starting any exercise program, ask your doctor about what level of physical activity is right for you.
  • Healthy Sleep. Studies have shown some relationship between lack of sleep and obesity.
Making lifelong healthy lifestyle changes, such as heart-healthy eating and physical activity, can help you modify your energy balance to help you aim for and maintain a healthy weight. For example:
  • To aim for a healthy weight, or lose weight, you want your energy OUT to be more than your energy IN.
  • To maintain weight loss you want your energy IN and energy OUT to be the same.
  • Behavioral weight-loss programs
Your doctor may recommend you enroll in individual or group behavioral weight-loss programs to treat your overweight and obesity. In these programs, a trained healthcare professional will customize a weight-loss plan for you. This plan will include a moderately-reduced calorie diet, physical activity goals, and behavioral strategies to help you make and maintain these lifestyle changes.

Did you know your brain’s pleasure and reward centers can be stimulated by food and the act of eating, making it harder to change eating patterns and lose weight?

Researchers know that our brains can become patterned so that we feel pleasure or reward from eating. This can make us unconsciously crave food so our bodies feel that sense of pleasure. It can also make it hard to change our eating patterns, lose weight, or maintain a healthy weight. Researchers are studying whether cognitive behavioral therapies can be an effective treatment for overweight and obesity by retraining the brain to not associate pleasure with food and the act of eating.
Medicine
When healthy lifestyle changes are not enough, your doctor may treat your overweight and obesity with FDA-approved medicines. These medicines work in the following parts of your body.

  • Brain. Several medicines change the way the brain regulates the urge to eat, which can help to decrease appetite. Some examples of these medicines are diethylpropion, phendimetrazine, lorcaserin, naltrexone/bupropion, and liraglutide.
  • Gastrointestinal tract. Orlistat is the only available medicine. It blocks your intestines from absorbing fat from foods in your diet.
Weight loss medicines are not recommended as a single treatment for weight loss. These medicines can help you lose weight but when combined with lifestyle changes may result in greater weight loss. Some of these medicines should not be used if you have certain conditions or are taking certain medicines. Also, these medicines have side effects. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to get pregnant, breast feeding, or have a family history of cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke.
Surgical procedures
Some patients with obesity do not respond to healthy lifestyle changes and medicines. When these patients develop certain obesity-related complications, they may be eligible for the following surgeries.
  • Gastric bypass surgery. A small part of the stomach is connected to the middle part of the intestine, bypassing the first part of intestine. This decreases the amount of food that you can eat and the amount of fat your body can take in and store.
  • Gastrectomy. A big portion of the stomach is removed to decrease the amount of food that you can eat.
  • Gastric banding. A hollow band is placed around the upper part of the stomach creating a smaller stomach. This decreases the amount of food you can eat.
Talk to your doctor to learn more about the benefits and risks of each type of surgery. Possible complications include bleeding, infection, internal rupture of sutures, or even death. Read gastric bypass surgery for more information.