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Understanding Obesity

Obesity is now ranked as the second-highest cause of preventable deaths in the United States. The rate at which obesity has worsened over the past 20 years is alarming, and there is now a growing amount of national attention focused on the problem. In 2012, the American Medical Association finally declared obesity to be a disease.

When talking about obesity, it is very important to make the distinction between the social impact of obesity and the medical impact. There are many who feel strongly that there is nothing wrong with being obese. These individuals and groups have advocated for fair and equal treatment of those who are morbidly obese, asserting that being of larger size is something to embrace and be proud of.

That is a very different issue than the reality of the impact of obesity on the human body. Put quite simply, the body was not designed to carry excessive amounts of weight. Once a person’s weight reaches the state of obesity, there is a significant amount of stress placed on the cardiac, respiratory and musculoskeletal systems. Over time, without a reduction in weight, this causes other diseases to emerge, and ultimately leads to an earlier death.

A study published in 2013 in the American Journal of Public Health demonstrated that close to 20% of U.S. deaths are due to obesity, or nearly 1 in 5 adult deaths. This is a significant increase from the previous rate of only 5%, or 1 in 20 adult deaths.

Obesity related deaths are usually linked to one of the following known conditions caused by obesity:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
  • High Blood Pressure and other heart-related diseases
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Cancer risk and recurrence reduction

Studies show that patients who lose a significant amount of weight usually experience a cure, or at least a dramatic improvement of these conditions. Most patients can often reduce or eliminate the need for medications and/or machines to help breathing during sleep.


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