Being overweight is becoming more common among both children and adults; however, it’s not a category many of us would like to fall into.
But, being overweight isn’t just a cosmetic concern, it’s also a contributing factor to many unwanted health risks.
Although people typically gain weight from eating more calories than they burn, having weight management issues can arise from genetic, hormonal, or lifestyle factors and behaviours, or a combination of these.
Risk Factors for Being Overweight or Obese
The higher your body fat, the higher your risk of developing health problems. Overweight adults are at risk of slipping into obesity with its even greater health problems.
There are many reasons for unwanted weight gain, aside from making poor food choices and living an inactive lifestyle.
For instance, it could be due to working too many hours and having high levels of stress. Stress can affect hormones that influence weight control.
Not getting enough rest may seem productive for some, as maybe you’ve accustomed yourself to less sleep to achieve more on your ‘to do’ list. Realistically, lack of sleep is counterproductive as sleep plays a big role in your hormonal balance. Which is key in your ability to maintain a healthy weight.
Realistically, lack of sleep is counterproductive as sleep plays a big role in your hormonal balance. Which is key in your ability to maintain a healthy weight.
A family history of being overweight or obese is another contributing factor. If weight problems are in your genes, you should take extra care to avoid excessive weight gain.
Being overweight or obese can be caused by certain medical conditions, such as Cushing’s syndrome or hypothyroidism. A sudden spike in weight gain can also be caused by medications.
Pregnancy is associated with weight gain and it should be monitored to ensure that it remains within the normal range.
There are many diseases and conditions that are associated with excess weight. These range from minor to major health issues that can impact both the length and quality of life.
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Breathing problems, including sleep apnea
- Some types of cancer
- Erectile dysfunction and sexual health issues
- Gynecological issues in women, such as infertility
- Gallbladder disease
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, where fat builds up in the liver causing scarring and inflammation
Being overweight can cause unwanted feelings of sadness, despair and low self-confidence. It’s important to look at our emotional health and see if it plays a role in our relationship with our body.
If you need counselling it’s important to get support, as sometimes we use food to help cope with unwanted negative emotions. Which, in turn, may cause more weight gain and feelings of sadness.
Treatment tips for losing weight focus less on dieting and more on establishing a lifelong healthy diet balanced with keeping physically active.
Even a modest weight loss can help to prevent your risk of developing serious health problems, as well as improving your overall well being, self-esteem and body confidence.
When Should Patients See a Doctor?
Having an honest conversation with your doctor about your weight concerns is a good first step, as you may need the assistance of a healthcare professional to help reach your goals.
Your healthcare provider should monitor your progress, determine your weight loss needs and assess your current ability to exercise. Your doctor may be able to refer you to a nutritional professional in your area.
How to prepare
Take personal notes and prepare some questions for your doctor.
Some examples include:
- What are eating patterns likely contributing to my weight gain?
- Do I need a behavioural counsellor?
- Do I have underlying health problems?
- Would a prescription medication help?
- Is weight loss surgery an option for me? Am I in need of it?
What to expect
Your doctor is likely to ask many questions regarding your weight, your habits and lifestyle.
Before your appointment, keep an honest log of the kinds and amounts of food you have eaten, and monitor your daily activity. Using a pedometer can help to measure activity.
This will give your doctor a rough guide to your current calorie intake vs. energy use. It’ll also give insight into potential lifestyle changes that may help you lose weight.
Your doctor may ask you to take a physical and do some tests, as well as taking body measurements to help assess your needs.
Treatment Beyond Lifestyle Changes
Start making choices today that will help you to start losing weight. Begin with healthy changes in your diet and a gradual increase in your daily physical activity – with weight loss, every little bit helps.
Your doctor may advise dietary changes such as reducing calorie intake, eating larger quantities of foods that have low calories to make you feel full, and restricting certain foods all together.
Behavioural therapies to help with compulsive eating and mood imbalances may be recommended, as well as prescriptions medications to assist in initial weight loss.
You may be a candidate for other treatment options such as weight-loss surgery. Discuss the benefits and risks of surgery with your doctor.
Common weight loss surgeries include:
- Gastric bypass surgery
- Gastric sleeve
- Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB)
- Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch
Surgical options, including those listed above will be explained in detail when you qualify. You will also learn about aftercare and preventative methods to avoid gaining back the weight.
Trying to lose weight prior to the medical procedure should be your first option.
If you are worried about yourself or a loved one being overweight or obese, check out our weight loss and healthy tips. We’ll to get you started on the right track.
Make sure you speak to your healthcare provider before starting a weight loss plan.
The information in this article should not be taken as professional medical advice. If you are having issues or have health-related concerns, you should see your personal physician