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Why should we treat obesity seriously?

Obesity is a serious disease with far-reaching medical, personal and societal consequences. Over the last 20 years, the number of adults with obesity has doubled, and it has tripled in children.

Obesity kills as many Americans in three days as the rampant epidemic of the coronavirus has killed in the last three months. And the toll will rise as the majority of children with obesity will grow into obese adults.

The three Bs that make obesity a serious disease are:

  • Biology. Body weight control is not regulated in people with obesity, and therefore diets and exercise are not effective.
  • Blame. Blaming people for not losing weight by doing things that don’t work in an insanely calorie-rich environment is counter-productive.
  • Bias. A societal bias exists against overweight and obese people. This extends to health care providers, which creates a major obstacle for people with obesity to seek proper medical treatment.

At AdventHealth Tampa, we are taking a serious approach to treating obesity and its associated diseases; each person who accesses AdventHealth is screened for weight, diabetes control, smoking and cancer. They are also given meaningful information on prevention, practical advice how to improve their health and referrals to many of our specialists.

How do we do it? By understanding individual needs and working with every person on building an individualized plan. And by a wholistic approach that includes body, mind and spiritual wellness.

Because obesity is a complex problem, we assembled teams with different specialties including dietitians to clarify food choices, psychologists to help with mindful eating and doctors that use effective medications for weight management. For people with chronic obesity, we offer bariatric surgery that produces durable and sustainable weight loss and helps patients gain their lives back, improve their mobility, put diabetes into remission and prevent cancer.

Let’s escalate our response to the level of the epidemic and raise awareness that obesity is a serious disease that requires serious treatment.

Dr. Murr is a bariatric surgeon at AdventHealth Tampa’s Bariatric and Metabolic Institute.

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