Weight Management & Obesity Prevention
Any individual is either overweight or not. Except for those with endocrine disorders, there are two warning signals that identify the risk for becoming obese for someone not overweight:
- Family history of obesity
- Crossing the threshold from a normal weight to overweight
Prevention of obesity should take into account all of the physical, biological, therapeutic, and mental conditions that contribute to it:
- Physiologic alterations due to endocrine disorders should be identified early when there is a family history of obesity. Hypothyroidism and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Cushing Syndrome, and kidney disease can cause weight gain. Treating the underlying disorder that causes weight gain will prevent weight gain. Diabetics should maintain optimal glycemic control, which not only prevents obesity, but decreases the risks of diabetic complications and cardiovascular disease.
- Drugs that can cause weight gain should be replaced with equally efficacious ones for those at risk.
- Poor choices in lifestyle should be corrected. This means a proper, nutritious, and a calorie-restricted diet. Excessive caloric intake is a bad behavior that requires correction.
- Family therapy can be the key to success if there is a family history of obesity. Having others in the household making bad dietary choices will expose a patient to undue temptation, making attaining his or her goals less likely. An entire family with similar goals will act as its own support group, enhancing the chances of meeting dietary goals.
- Utilize psychological evaluations to identify triggers for overeating, old (previous abuse and depression) or current (depression, anxiety, or hopelessness).
- Nutritional counseling can be helpful in identifying dietary choices that can push someone from “at risk for obesity” to actual obesity. Education is always helpful in accelerating and strengthening the entire process of prevention.
- Physical exercise/activity is the other half (with diet) of a prime prevention strategy. Even for individuals not overweight, a commitment to fitness is a healthy lifestyle across all demographics, not just for those at risk for becoming overweight.