First, a quick review: Obesity is a complex, multifactorial, chronic, relapsing disease affecting over 42% of American adults, over a billion people around the world, and costing the global economy trillions of dollars!

  • Complex: involve multiple body systems and implicate in over 230 other conditions
  • Multifactorial: influenced by genetic, epigenetic, neurobehavioral, environmentall, immune, endocrine, and medical factors, plus medications, developmental changes, and nutritional imbalances…definitely many factors!
  • Chronic: there is no cure for obesity presently and it persists throughout life…but we can halt its progress and reverse its course with a number of interventions.
  • Relapsing: obesity can recur if we stop the interventions that halt and reverse its progress.
  • Disease: obesity is a condition that causes the body to store excess adipose tissue (body fat) that leads to
    • Metabolic consequences: over 230 obesity related conditions including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, certain cancers and more.
    • Biomechanical consequences: wear and tear on joints leading to arthritis, pain, changes in movement, damage to organs and more
    • Psychosocial health consequences: increased risk and incidence of depression, anxiety, altered body image, disrupted sleep and energy balance and more

Obesity is more than just weight gain; it is the combination of factors that together cause people with obesity to store more energy as body fat than others. Treating obesity involves more than just losing weight; successful treatment of obesity requires us to address ALL of the contributing factors of each individual with obesity. According to Dr. Andres Acosta, a research physician with the Mayo Clinic, there are several types of obesity:

  • Hungry brain: not feeling full when eating (impaired satiation)
  • Hungry gut: not feeling full after eating (impaired satiety)
  • Emotional/stress eating (hedonic eating)
  • Slow burn (truly slow metabolism)

The Mayo researchers identified 85% of study participants as having one or more of the subtypes and the remaining 15% having no identifiable subtype (perhaps related to injury, genetic variation, medication, and/or other factors. The main takeaway: treating obesity successfully requires us to match an individual’s type of obesity with individualized interventions.

The pillars of obesity treatment include nutrition, physical activity, behavioral health, medicine, and metabolic/bariatric surgery when indicated. In the weeks to come, we will dive deeper into each of the pillars and practice little changes that can make a BIG difference. 

What little changes can you make today that will lead to better health tomorrow? Whatever you do, remember this: you are not alone. Together WE CAN DO THIS!

Contributor:

Dr. Thomas George, Jr., DNP, CRNP, FNP-C

Chief Executive Officer

Family Nurse Practitioner

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Wellspring Family Medicine

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