What we know about obesity

Obesity is a complex chronic disease that develops with an excessive accumulation of body fat. The accumulation of fat, specifically when the fat accumulation is around vital organs such as the liver MAY impact someone’s health. As a chronic disease we do not have a cure for it and it must be treated through a health care professional team. The treatment for obesity might include medical nutrition therapy, psychological intervention, physical activity, pharmacotherapy and surgery. Obesity is diagnosed using BMI, which is limited because it does not indicate how someone’s health is affected.

New research shows obesity should be looked at using BMI and waist circumference; which better predicts health outcomes. In 2020 Canada released new practice guidelines which proposes a 5 stage system to help healthcare professionals identify if medical management is needed. Recent research also recommended for the focus of obesity treatment to be on improving health outcomes rather than weight loss. In the Canadian new practice guidelines they say “At the individual level, complications occur because of excess adiposity, location and distribution of adiposity and many other factors, including environmental, genetic, biologic and socioeconomic factors”. Weight alone does not cause obesity complications, it is only a factor. Weight loss is not sustainable long term because of various body adaptation.

The nutrition approach should be holistic and take in consideration the persons value and health desire. Behavioral changes should be maintainable as a life long change; they can lead to a 3-5% weight reduction. The percentage of weight loss will vary greatly on an individual basis depending on multiple factors such as but not limited to genetics and socioeconomics. The inability to lose weight is not indicative of an individuals personal efforts. In all cases the implementation of balanced meals through behavioral changes decrease the chances of developing or aggravating obesity related co-morbidities.

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