Overweight? All Is Not Lost!

Overweight? All Is Not Lost!

Need to shed 15 or 25 pounds? Try this trick: Pick up a 15- or 25-pound turkey in the grocery store (or a bag of soil at the nursery). Then carry it around for a few minutes. Did you find it tough to do? Extra pounds take a toll, don’t they? But weight gain is often such a gradual process that you might not even realize it’s happening.1

Sadly, more and more people are dying from weight-related health problems. This includes high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other conditions. In 2015, 40 percent of 4 million deaths linked to weight were in people who weren’t even considered obese, just overweight.2 And for those who gain more, the risks are even greater. For example, 44 extra pounds in midlife increases your risk of type 2 diabetes by 10 times.1 There’s an emotional toll as well. A recent study found that heavy kids faced three times the risk of depression in adulthood.3

Okay, enough of the scary statistics. I’m here to also say that even small changes can make a big difference. For example, did you know that losing just 7 percent of your body weight can cut your risk of diabetes by 60 percent?4

So what can you do? As I’m sure you’re aware, there’s no shortage of weight-loss tips out there. Here are a few backed by recent research:

  • Weigh yourself regularly, especially during times of life transition, such as pregnancy or marriage. See the number going up? Nip that trend in the bud before it gets even harder to do.1
  • Down water instead of other drinks. Following 16,000 adults, researchers found that drinking a glass of water instead of a beer every day reduced the risk of obesity by 20 percent. Substituting water for sugar-sweetened drinks lowered the risk by 15 percent.5
  • Be wary of artificially sweetened drinks, though. Among 1,000 subjects in seven clinical trials, aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose showed no major weight-loss benefits. In fact, data from 30 observational studies involving 400,000 people showed a link between artificial sweeteners and obesity. These kinds of studies, however, can’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship.6
  • “Keep on walking, keep on walking,” to paraphrase Dory from Finding Nemo. A global study looked at “activity gaps” and found that waistlines have widened in places where walking rates have declined.7 The great thing about this activity is that nearly everyone can do it. And it doesn’t cost much, just the price of a good pair of shoes. On your walks, you can also try a few quick bursts of fast walking or running to burn extra calories.8
  • Get enough sleep. This link might be something you don’t think much about. But studies have shown a lack of sleep may contribute to obesity.

Of course, it goes without saying that you need to focus on healthy food choices, too. Eat more vegetables, fruits, lean meats, fish, and nonfat dairy products. And don’t tempt fate. Keep sugary, starchy foods out of your house, if you can.8

If lifestyle changes aren’t quite enough to be effective, your doctor may prescribe a medication or other measures. As you know, I’d be glad to share my insights. Good luck!

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 

Sources:

  1. HealthDay: “More Evidence That Midlife Weight Gain Harms Your Health.” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167272.html Accessed 8-2-17.
  2. HealthDay: “2 Billion Worldwide Are Obese or Overweight.” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_166514.html Accessed 8-2-17.
  3. HealthDay: “Heavy Kids Face Triple the Odds for Depression in Adulthood.” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_165743.html Accessed 8-2-17.
  4. WebMD: “Weight and Diabetes: Lose Pounds to Lower Your Risk.” Available at: http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/features/diabetes-weight-loss-finding-the-right-path#1 Accessed 8-2-17.
  5. HealthDay: “Drink Water, Fight Fat?” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_165714.html Accessed 8-2-17.
  6. HealthDay: “Could Artificial Sweeteners Raise Your Odds for Obesity?” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/news/fullstory_167249.html Accessed 8-2-17
  7. NHLBI: “Treatment.” Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/treatment Accessed 8-2-17.
  8. WebMD: “Lose Weight Fast: How to Do It Safely.” Available at: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/lose-weight-fast-how-to-do-it-safely#1 Accessed 8-2-17.
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High blood pressure is a “silent killer”

Healthy Heart Habits: Life’s Simple 7

As you started into the new year, did you resolve to have healthier habits? Many people do. But a long-term study found that Americans are not doing as well as they were 20 years ago in maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle.1 And that increases their chances of having a heart attack, stroke, or heart disease.2

Life’s Simple 7. In the study, the percentage of Americans who met all these heart-healthy lifestyle goals—what the American Heart Association calls Life’s Simple 7—dropped from 8.5 percent to 5.8 percent:

  • Eat a balanced diet.healthy heart month blood pressure ad
  • Be active.
  • Manage your weight.
  • Don’t use tobacco.
  • Maintain ideal levels of blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

Best for women. In the past, it was thought that hormones protected women from heart disease until menopause. Now we know that’s not the case. But two recent studies show that there may be subtle differences in what’s best for women and men.

In one study, women who followed these six habits cut their risk of heart attack by a whopping 92 percent.3                             

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Maintain a normal body mass index (BMI).
  • Exercise—moderately to vigorously—at least 2.5 hours a week.
  • Watch no more than seven hours of TV each week.
  • Drink no more than one alcoholic beverage each day.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fish or omega-3 fatty acids. Limit sugary drinks, processed and red meats, trans fats, and sodium.

Even women who adopted just one or two of these healthy habits lowered their heart risk, with a normal BMI having the greatest impact.

Best for men. A Swedish study tracked 20,000 men and found that men with the following habits cut their risk of heart attack by 86 percent:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Drink no more than two alcoholic drinks a day.
  • Stay physically active, for example, walking or cycling at least 40 minutes a day.
  • Maintain a waist circumference of less than 37 inches.3

For men, healthy diet and moderate drinking appeared to have the most impact on reducing their heart risks.

Know your numbers. So where should you begin? One place to start is to know your numbers. That includes blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure—as well as your weight. The next step is to talk with your doctor about ways to improve.

I can also give you tips on tracking—and improving—these critical numbers. For example, if you want to track your blood pressure at home, I’ll advise you on how best to do that. Remember: High blood pressure is a “silent killer,” so the only way to know whether or not it’s lurking is to check it.

  • In fact, nearly 30 percent of Americans have high blood pressure. And, nearly half don’t have it under control with either lifestyle habits or medication.2 If your doctor has prescribed blood pressure medication, be sure to take it. For some people, that’s the only way to keep it at bay. And, don’t forget to check your blood pressure, especially when you are not feeling well. Having a blood pressure unit at home is inexpensive and needed, especially when taking blood pressure medications.

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 Sources:

  1. HealthDay: Fewer Americans Than Ever Sticking to Heart-Healthy Lifestyle, Study Finds. Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_155611.html Accessed 12-11-15.
  2. HealthDay: Nearly Half of Americans with High Blood Pressure Not Controlling It: CDC: Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_155688.html Accessed 12-11-15.
  3. WebMD: Top Healthy Habits for Your Heart. Available at: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20150107/healthy-heart-habits Accessed 12-11-15.