Obesity is excess body fat. Approximately 33 percent of Americans 20 to 75 years of age are overweight, and of these, approximately one third are severely obese.
Signs and Symptoms of Obesity
A person whose BMI is greater than 30 (your weight in kilograms divided by the square of your height in meters) is considered an obese adult or obese child.
What Causes Obesity?
Being overweight usually reflects a poor diet, poor eating habits, and a lack of exercise. Genetics may also play a role. There are a number of rare syndromes that cause obesity. The following factors can put you at risk.
- Other family members are obese
- Overeating or a high-fat diet
- Little or no physical activity
- Some prescription medications
- Psychological factors (such as death of a loved one)
What to Expect at Your Provider’s Office
Your health care provider will give you a thorough physical examination and will take blood samples to measure blood sugar and cholesterol levels. He or she will also check your blood pressure.
Treatment Options for Obesity
Treatment Plan for Obese Adults
Lifestyle changes, such as eating better and exercising more, are essential. Your health care provider will treat any underlying disease that may be occurring with your obesity. Your provider also may suggest you take a drug to help you lose weight. However, no drug is safe or effective for long-term use. Surgery for severe obesity includes gastric bypass and stapling or liposuction to redistribute some of the fat.
Drug Therapies for Obesity
- Diuretics—for temporary use to reduce water retention; do not reduce stores of fatty tissue
Over the Counter
- Ephedrine plus caffeine—increases your metabolism, helping you to lose weight; do not use if you have high blood pressure, heart or thyroid disease, diabetes, or an enlarged prostate
Complementary and Alternative Therapies for Obesity
Alternative therapies can help stabilize blood sugars, promote a customize-tailored exercise plan, and treat emotional well-being. Mind/body techniques can be helpful.
Nutrition for Obesity
- Protein: You may do better with a high protein, low carbohydrate diet.
- Fluid: 6 to 8 glasses daily of nonsugared, caffeine-free drinks.
- Fiber: increasing dietary fiber (for example, fruits and vegetables)promotes weight loss.
- Allergies: Many people find that avoiding allergenic foods (wheat, dairy, soy, peanuts, eggs, and citrus) improves digestion.
- Multiple vitamin to address dietary imbalances.
- Chromium picolinate (200 to 500 mcg, once or twice per day): increases insulin sensitivity, and stabilizes blood sugars.
- Vitamin C (3,000 to 6,000 mg per day): speeds up metabolism and is needed for cholesterol metabolism.
- Essential fatty acids (primrose oil, 2 to 4 g per day; flaxseed oil): one study showed reduction in appetite and some weight loss.
- Lecithin, choline, methionine (1 g per day of each): aids proper fat metabolism and decreases fat cravings.
- Thiamine (2.5 mg per day): plays a role in fatty-acid metabolism and may decrease ketone formation; increased ketones may play a role in hunger; to avoid imbalance, supplement with a B-complex: B1 (50 to 100 mg), B2 (50 mg), B3 (25 mg); B5 (100 mg); B6 (50 to 100 mg), B12 (100 to 1,000 mcg), folate (400 mcg) per day.
- Kelp (1,000 to 2,000 mg per day, equivalent to 250 to 500 mcg of iodine per day): may aid in weight loss because it provides nutrients for thyroid functioning.
- L-glutamine (1,000 mg three times per day): may blunt carbohydrate craving.
- Coenzyme Q10 is important in fatty-acid metabolism, may help break down fat into energy.
- 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP; 100 to 300 mg per day): reduces food intake by making you feel full. It acts as an anti-depressant.
Herbal Remedies for Obesity
Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day.
A combination of four to six of the following herbs can be taken three times per day before meals (1 cup tea or 30 drops tincture):
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita) helps relieve gas, relieves spasms, historically to reduce appetite
- Bladder wrack (Fucus vesiculosus) historic use in obesity
- Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) diuretic, for gastrointestinal needs
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) diuretic, dyspepsia
- Hawthorne (Cretaegus oxyacantha) good for blood vessels
- St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) antidepressant
- Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) bitter spasmolytic, sedative
- Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) dyspepsia, for liver and gallbladder
- Lavender (Lavendula officinalis) reduces gas, relieves spasms
- Gentian (Gentiana Lutea) reduces gas, digestive stimulation
Homeopathy for Obesity
Homeopathy may be useful as a supportive therapy.
Physical Medicine for Obesity
Exercise is critical. While 20 minutes of aerobic exercise per day is ideal, as little as 10 minutes per day can help stabilize blood sugar and thereby reduce cravings. Gentle exercise (walking, yoga, swimming, biking) can increase cardiovascular health without great stress on joints.
Acupuncture can be used to help balance the body’s metabolism, stabilize blood sugar, correct digestive disorders, control certain eating disorders, aid in elimination and relieve stress, anxiety, and depression.
May be beneficial. By decreasing stress, cortisol is decreased, which will help to stabilize blood sugar and prevent or treat diabetes.
Your health care provider may also suggest counseling to help you along as you lose weight.
Special Considerations for Obesity
If you are obese, you are at risk for diabetes, heart problems, and other conditions. Obesity during pregnancy can put you and your baby at risk.
Supporting Research on Obesity
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