The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the United States obesity rate reached 42.4% in 2017-2018. This was the first time in history it surpassed 40%.
Obesity isn't just a US problem; it's a global problem. Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows obesity has tripled since 1975. Approximately 2.1 billion people, 30% of the world population, struggle with obesity.
As these numbers continue to rise, it's vital to know more about obesity. We put together the top five facts about obesity that you can't ignore!
What is obesity?
WHO describes obesity as when the body has an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation, and a person's body mass index (BMI)* is over 30.
Obesity can put you at risk for various other health issues, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, gallstones, and certain types of cancer.
*BMI measures body fat in men and women based on their height and weight.
Fact #1: Obesity is multifaceted
Poor diet and lack of exercise or physical activity can play a huge part in obesity. However, several other factors can play a role in obesity:
Underlying medical conditions
Research shows that environmental and economic factors also contribute to the rise in obesity.
Because of all the various factors that can lead to obesity, management of the disease can look different from person to person.
Fact #2: Fighting obesity is more than counting calories
You may have heard that counting calories is key to weight loss. But it's so much more than that.
Certain foods we eat can affect the hormones responsible for regulating when and how much we eat. Some foods can even cause hormonal changes that encourage weight gain.
On the flip side, there are foods that increase the feeling of fullness and your metabolism. Studies show that eating fewer carbs while increasing protein and good fat can lead to better weight loss than cutting calories.
Losing weight based on calorie intake alone ignores the other health effects of foods. In reality, you should be eating to get the most nutritional benefits for overall health.
Fact #3: Rapid weight loss can cause problems
While losing weight can improve your overall health, you should be aware of issues that may arise, especially if you lose too much weight too quickly. Rapid weight loss can lead to:
A lower metabolism
Sleep issues/extreme fatigue
Working with your doctor or dietitian can help ensure you are losing weight in a healthy way. Your physician can also refer you to a counselor or healthcare professional to help with a treatment plan for your mental health during the process.
Fact #4: Gut microbiota is a new pathway to treat obesity
The link between the gut and obesity is a continuously growing area of interest in obesity research. Over the past few years, researchers have been able to link the microbiota, the trillions of microorganisms living in the gut to weight gain and metabolic disease.
Bottom line: bacteria in your digestive tract can contribute to obesity.
While more research is needed, experts suggest keeping your gut balanced with a diet that's filled with more fruits and veggies and fewer sugars and processed foods. One study even found that adding a probiotic can keep the harmful bacteria from overgrowing, thus contributing to weight loss and a lower BMI.
Fact #5: Treatment options are available
As we said before, sometimes healthy eating habits and becoming physically active aren't enough. If this is the case for you, your doctor may prescribe medications to treat obesity.
The FDA has approved the following drugs for obesity:
IMCIVREE (setmelanotide) has also been approved but is limited to people who have been diagnosed with one of three specific rare genetic disorders. Genetic testing is required to confirm before it can be prescribed.
When combined with lifestyle changes, prescription medications help some people lose weight and maintain weight loss.
There are herbal remedies and dietary supplements, available OTC, that claim to help with weight loss. Some of these supplements can have severe side effects, especially when mixed with other drugs. Always talk to your doctor before taking any medication (prescribed or OTC) or dietary supplement.
Obesity is a complex disease. While there's still so more to know about it,
knowing the facts about obesity can help better understand the condition.
If you live with obesity, speaking with your doctor or healthcare provider is critical to preventing serious health risks. At CareCard, we are passionate about helping make your prescription payments more affordable, saving members up to 85% on prescription drugs and medications. Learn how CareCard can help make your medication payments more manageable.