The video above (for adults only) has a hard message to swallow. Obesity makes it much more likely that you will develop other health problems. If you think you are overweight, contact your doctor to discuss whether you have complications such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, depression, eating disorders, or diabetes.
The best treatment for all these issues is weight loss, but there are often other interventions that may help while you are attempting to lose weight.
Some problems don’t have obvious symptoms, like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but are still very important for your doctor to monitor.
How do doctors warn us about health risks without scare tactics? How can they help us get healthy without pills? The data suggests that doctors are still struggling with how to give good advice to patients struggling with excess weight. “Research shows that many physicians don’t know how to constructively discuss a patient’s weight, or they avoid the subject entirely. The barriers for doctors include pessimism that patients can change, time limitations during appointments and inadequate training to address the topic.”
The truth is, there are no magic pills, and there are no excuses for what the “food” industry sells us with complete disregard for our health. You have to find your way, you have to find your balance between too much and too little when it comes to both food and exercise. Keep it simple. Sure, there are gadgets out there – the Hapifork promises to warn you that you are eating too fast. But we know that eating meals as a family allows for the natural interruptions that create a healthy pace for a meal. Have a family meal. Go for a walk or a run.
As for the doctors, the path can also be quite simple. Start with the question: “How are you doing with your weight?”
When we think about the health of any one person, we know that it is both affected by and affects the people around him or her. Vaccines are an especially important tool for the health of our community, from the newest infant to the most seasoned retiree, and especially for all the thumb-sucking, hand-washing-averse toddlers, school-aged kids, and teenagers in between. Herd immunity is only as effective as the herd maintains vaccine rates above 80%. The very young and those citizens with compromised immune systems depend on us to keep them safe. Vaccines help keep us all protected against serious disease.
We recommend that all infants be vaccinated according to the American Academy of Pediatrics schedule.
We recommend that all adults be vaccinated. Family and caregivers of small children should especially keep up with yearly flu vaccines, Pertussis boosters (combined with Tetanus shots), and any necessary vaccines associated with travelling outside the U.S.
While there is an excess of unscientific and speculative opinion on vaccines available on the Internet, here are some qualified resources if you have questions about vaccines: AAP.org, CHOP.edu, and CDC.gov
Many people know that they need to make changes to get healthy, but they don’t know how to get started. We are lucky to have multiple options to help get you started.
- Healthy Families Clinic
Centra Medical Group has taken the latest research and created a multidisciplinary team for families with multiple members who are overweight. Clients begin with a comprehensive assessment by a psychiatrist, dietician, physical therapist, and a physician. This 6 month program at the downtown YMCA will require weekly visits. Call 200-6370 to learn more!
- The LEARN Program (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitudes, Relationships, Nutrition) This is a Centra Weight Management program, Wednesdays 1:15-2:30pm at the Cardiovascular Group (2410 Atherholt Rd) starting May 23! This 12 week program will help you improve your blood pressure and glucose levels by preparing healthy meals and exercising regularly. Call 200-CARE (2273) for more info or click here!
Shapedown is an established program sponsored by Centra and located at the Jamerson Family YMCA. The emphasis is on family-centered interventions with education about the food pyramid and exercise, with special attention on parenting skills and strategies as well as confidence- building and developing responsibility in the child. Mary Bice, R.N. is special trained in clinical education in child and adolescent obesity to be the Shapedown provider. There is a sliding- scale for fees such that all patients should be encouraged to apply regardless of income. Referrals can be made or patients can call directly the Healthy Living Center at the Jamerson Family YMCA. (434) 237-8163.
This Fredericksburg Pediatrician has some wonderful ideas on her blog for healthy recipes that are kid-tested and pediatrician approved! as well as shopping lists, musings on how to inspire the whole family to be healthy, and delicious pictures that will make you want to follow her advice.
Check out Doctor Yum!
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, but heart disease is preventable. How can you keep your heart healthy?
1. Eat a healthy diet. Choose plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables—adults should have at least 5 servings each day. Avoid foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol to prevent high cholesterol. More Info
2. Keep a healthy weight. Calculate your body mass index (BMI) to see if you are proportional!
3. Exercise regularly. Aim for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
4. Check your blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. You can check your blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy, or at a doctor’s office. More Info
5. Don’t smoke. For more information about tobacco use and quitting, click here
6. Limit alcohol use to two drinks (men) or one drink (women) per day, and women to no more than one. More Info
7. Check your cholesterol at least every 5 years. More info
8. If you have diabetes, check your blood sugar levels, and talk with your doctor about treatment. More Info
9. Take your medicine. Always ask questions if you don’t understand something. Your heart is worth it!
Heart disease is the number one killer in the US; but we can prevent it, and even after it has begun, we can make a difference.
Your cholesterol levels, your blood pressure, your weight and your sugar levels are all worth monitoring for your heart’s sake. How unhealthy am I? CLICK HERE!
Have you noticed all the tough guys on TV wearing pink? They are doing their part to remind us that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Many women fear this disease with good reason: it can be fatal, can be treated with disfiguring results, and can run in families. One goal of the pink ribbons is to encourage women over 40 to get screening mammograms. But many women don’t know enough about how to prevent this disease. One way to significantly reduce breast-cancer risk is as close as the sneakers in your closet. A woman who exercises at moderate levels for at least three hours per week decreases her risk of getting breast cancer by 30- 40 percent; this has been demonstrated by over 25 scientific studies. This is similar to the reduction in risk from taking the medicine tamoxifen, but without the nasty side effects. Just walking for 30 minutes a day 6 days a week could mean survival!
Standing on the scale is just one way to assess your weight. The scale can’t tell you your percentage body fat and several other measurements that may help you maximize your exercise potential.
Body Composition testing with a Bod Pod, Maximum exercise testing, lactate threshold testing, VO2 max testing, and general fitness testing are all available by the exercise physiology team at the Walker Human Performance Laboratory at Lynchburg College. These tests are available to the general public for purchase including . Contact the team via the website or by phone at 434.544.8476.
Every racial or ethnic group has specific health concerns. Differences in the health of groups can result from
- Environmental factors
- Access to care
- Cultural factors
The Center for Disease Control has statistics to show that African Americans are at higher risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Sisters Together is just one site with resources specifically for African American women who have much higher rates of overweight (78 % vs 59% of Caucasians) and obesity (51 % vs 33% for Caucasians).
Certain hairstyling practices can result in serious hair and scalp diseases for some black women, according to expert Dr. Diane Jackson-Richards, director of Henry Ford Hospital’s Multicultural Dermatology Clinic in Detroit. “Hair is an extremely important aspect of an African American woman’s appearance.” Proper hair care can help prevent diseases such as alopecia (hair loss) and an inflammatory skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis,
Tips to reduce the risk of developing a hair or scalp disease:
- Wash hair weekly with a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner; Wash braids or dreadlocks every two weeks.
- Limit the use of blow-dryers, hot combs and other heated hairstyling products to once a week.
- To detangle hair, use a wide-tooth comb while conditioner is still in the hair.
- Use natural hair oils with jojoba, olive, shea or coconut oils.
- Allow two weeks between relaxing and coloring.
- Don’t wear braids too tight and don’t wear them longer than three months.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. CDC estimates that about 1 in 88 children has been identified with an ASD. Because every child with an ASD is so unique, ongoing research is focused on providing essential data on ASDs, searching for risk factors and causes, and developing resources that help identify children with ASDS as early as possible.
A study published in Pediatrics recently suggests that the obesity epidemic may be contributing to the rising number of children diagnosed with autism. Researchers showed that compared to non-obese mothers, those who were obese before pregnancy had a 60% increase in the likelihood of having a child with autism and a doubling in risk of having a child with another type of cognitive or behavioral delay. This may be yet another reason to strongly consider how obesity affects our every aspect of our lives.
Obese children and adults are at high risk of developing diabetes. Increased thirst, increased urination, unexplained weight loss and thickened dark skin especially on the back of the neck can be signs of diabetes, which may require treatment with medication by mouth or shots of insulin. Contact your doctor ASAP to discuss these symptoms.
Click here to read more about Diabetes in adults. Click here to learn more about Diabetes in children. Watch this clip from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution to see a family learn about diabetes.
If you have already been diagnosed with Type II diabetes – the American Diabetes Association webpage
has great resources about Living with Diabetes, Food & Fitness, as well as News & Research.
For many patients, overeating is a way of coping with stress – an unhealthy way that ultimately causes the additional physical and psychological stress of being overweight. You may benefit from seeing a counselor who can help you reflect on how you cope with stress and to brainstorm alternate coping behaviors.
There is a new group of Overeaters Anonymous in our area. There are several weekly meetings:
- Saturday 9AM St. Paul’s Episcopal Church @ “Carriage House” in the corner of the parking lot behind the Church
- Monday 7pm Mead Memorial United Methodist Church Route 29 South
- Tuesday 7pm At the Kirk in Forest VA.
Contact Bev at 434-426-5853 or Mary P at 434-656-1472 for more info.
Click “Read More” to take the Eating Disorders Quiz Read More
The inability to sleep, loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy, and thoughts of hopelessness can all be signs of depression. If you are depressed, contact your doctor to discuss treatment options.
Snoring and interruptions in your breathing at night are signs of sleep apnea which can lead to daytime sleepiness and if persistent, heart problems. Ask your partner if you snore or if you seem to stop breathing for more than a few seconds.
Contact your doctor about these symptoms.
When diet and exercise haven’t succeeded or when serious health problems due to excess weight exist, many people consider weight loss surgery – called bariatric surgery – which changes the digestive system to help people lose weight by limiting how much one can eat. These surgeries are complicated and may have significant risks associated.
Usually, before bariatric surgery for adults is considered, the patient must have a minimum body mass index (BMI) of 40 (this means about 80-100 pounds or more above ideal body weight) OR a BMI of 35, along with other major medical conditions (such as heart disease, Type II diabetes, degenerative joint disease or obstructive sleep apnea) AND the patient has been unable to lose weight and keep it off. Want to check your BMI? Click here.
Pediatric bariatric surgery has even more strict requirements. The adolescent must have documented 6 months of organized weight loss attempts without success. Also, the BMI must be greater than 40, the child must have mature bones (generally 13 years of age for girls and 15 years of age for boys), and he or she must have other medical problems related to obesity.
Referrals for bariatric surgery
UVA Adults & Children: Dr. Bruce Schirmer (434)924-2104 or (434)924-9954
Carilion Roanoke (540)224-5170 or (877)827-2836