The Prairie Doc Perspective

A New Mindset About Obesity

By Richard P. Holm M.D.

I need to tell you frankly that trying to encourage people to lose weight is like telling them they should stop growing older, or to advise men going bald to stop losing hair. Most heavy people would love to be thinner, but it seems once the weight comes on, it is destined to stay there.

People blame the American diet, excesses of labor saving devices, and the addiction too many of our children have with video games. I believe that the epidemic of obesity in our society has something to do with the inactivity of our youth, but actually we don’t know why some adults are heavy and some are thin. I will even go one step further in stating that until we truly understand why obesity happens, we will NOT have an effective non-surgical treatment.

One thing is for sure; obesity is not due simply to excessive eating alone. More than one study points out that many thin people eat more than many obese. The corollary is also true; simply deciding to eat less does not solve the problem, at least in the long run.

The most successful of commercial methods, like Weight Watchers or TOPS, apparently help only about one third lose significant weight. What’s worse, only one third of those are able to keep it off one year, and then after five years, virtually all have regained their original weight.

Here is the good news next to all the bad. There is new data, which shows that heavy people, who are able to significantly exercise, don’t lose weight, BUT they gain in quality of life. These heavy exercisers have the same chance for a long and healthy life as do thin people.

We all need a new mindset. Instead of weight loss as the goal, which for the most part is unachievable, we should do all we can to bring people to exercise, and that goes double for our kids.

Let’s get off that couch and get moving, even if it’s limited at first. And then we should love ourselves for doing it, whatever weight we may be.

Dr. Rick Holm wrote this Prairie Doc Perspective for “On Call®,” a weekly program where medical professionals discuss health concerns for the general public.  “On Call®” is produced by the Healing Words Foundation in association with the South Dakota State University Journalism Department. “On Call®” airs Thursdays on South Dakota Public Broadcasting-Television at 7 p.m. Central, 6 p.m. Mountain. Visit us at OnCallTelevision.com. 

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