An alarming 35 percent of Kentuckians are obese, the fifth-highest obesity rate in the United States. Obesity is associated with many health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. With the new year, this is the perfect time to take control of your weight.
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In most cases, weight can be controlled by a healthy diet and regular exercise. To lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way, avoid fad diets and exercise that put strain on your body. Instead, consult your physician to determine a diet and exercise regimen that is right for you.
According to the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, a balanced and healthy diet will consist of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. It’s important to enjoy all foods in moderation and stick with manageable portions. Avoid fried options and foods that are high in carbohydrates. Drink water instead of soda, sugary juices and alcohol.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults engage in at least one hour of exercise a day. If you’re new to exercise, start with low-impact activities, such as power walking. As you get in better shape, ease into more high-intensity workouts, including running and weightlifting. The key is to elevate your heart rate in a way that is safe for your body. Ask your doctor which exercises are right for your fitness level, and always stretch before exercising.
In some cases, diet and exercise might not be enough to keep the pounds off, and surgery might be necessary. To qualify for weight loss surgery, patients must meet obesity requirements based upon body mass index and the amount of obesity-associated medical problems they have.
Bariatric surgery restricts the amount of food a person can consume and causes hormonal changes in the body. These hormonal changes help to correct diseases including diabetes and high blood pressure. The most commonly performed bariatric procedures include gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy, both of which typically require a one-night hospital stay.
Gastric bypass is a surgical procedure in which the stomach is made smaller by stapling it, creating a small pouch and connecting it directly to a lower portion of the bowel, where the food goes. Because of the rerouting, the surgery restricts the amount of food consumed and reduces the absorption of nutrients and calories, improving the hormonal balance.
During a gastric sleeve procedure, 80 percent of the stomach is removed, but there is no rerouting. The remaining stomach is about the size of a banana, restricting food consumption and decreasing the amount of ghrelin, known as the hunger hormone. This will ultimately decrease the patient’s appetite.
If you plan to set a healthy weight-loss goal for the new year, consult your doctor first to ensure that you are losing weight safely and efficiently. If you are having difficulty losing weight, ask your doctor if you are a candidate for weight-loss surgery.
Alberto Zarak, MD, Bariatric Surgeon at KentuckyOne Health Center for Weight Loss Surgery, Saint Joseph East.