Man v. Food

Man v. Food

When 7-Eleven introduced the Big Gulp in 1976, some marketing executives argued it would never take off. Today, America’s quintessential large beverage generates almost 10% of total store revenue.

To no surprise, the majority of us have had issues with weight control at some point in our life. The fact that obesity is still on the rise in our country, however, is a bigger problem. According to Dr. Michael A. Abgott, Chair of Family Medicine at St. Luke’s, “by medical standards 1 in 3 people in our country are overweight, and it’s become an epidemic”.

“Obesity is generally considered carrying excessive body weight beyond what is considered healthy”, Dr. Abgott says. “In technical terms, it’s more accurately evaluated by measuring our BMI (Body Mass Index)”, he explains. “Aside from being the cause of other medical issues like diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, it takes years off of our life.” Moderate obesity reduces life expectancy by about 3 years. Severe obesity can shorten our life by as many as 10.

“Although hot trends like 16-hour fasting and the grapefruit diet provide a short-term fix, they’re not at all sustainable solutions to weight loss or weight management. When we address these problems more comprehensively, we have the ability to manage the problem and become a healthier population,” Dr. Abgott says.

Weight management requires education, understanding the drivers that create bad habits, and changing our behaviors. Access to healthier, more affordable foods and culture play a role. Success rates (without the use of medication or medical procedures like bariatric surgery) are related to functional support, nutritional counseling, and an actionable plan. Being open minded about discussing the problem in a positive way is key. Understanding that the feelings we have about ourselves also matter.

“At St. Luke’s, we care about making a difference in people’s lives”, Dr. Abgott says. “We’re invested in our communities. We’re committing resources to programs like Get Your Tail on the Trail, Walk with a Doc, and Kellyn Foundation. We’re leading the way with new programs in Lifestyle Medicine.”

BMI is calculated by dividing our weight in kilograms by the square root of our height. A reading of 18-25 is normal, 25-30 is overweight, 30-40 is obese, over 40 is morbidly or severely obese.

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