Schneck Medical Center

SUM 2015

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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1 1 w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m S U M M E R 2 015 S P I R I T O F W O M E N 60 35 SHUTTERSTOCK W ith nearly two- thirds of U.S. adults now considered overweight, it's no surprise that obesity continues to be a hot topic. Findings suggest a relatively small percentage of the population has a genetic predisposition to obesity, and other people gain weight as a result of endocrine diseases and disorders, but the medical community treats obesity as a disease caused primarily by environmental factors. "The question of the role of genetics in obesity is a complex one," says Dr. Craig Morgenthal, medical director for the Center for Bariatrics at Baptist Medical Center, Jacksonville, Fla., which has been recognized by Florida Blue with a Blue Distinction Center designation in the area of bariatric surgery. "At this point, you can't really say a certain gene causes obesity. There is a complex interplay between genes and the environment in which we live. The more we learn, the more we really see how complex it is," says Dr. Morgenthal, also affiliated with Baptist Health Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Fla. STARTING YOUNG The good news is that unlike genes, environmental factors that encourage obesity can often be altered starting at a young age. "It's very important for parents, grandparents and all of the adults in a family to model good behavior," says Dr. Sara Franzen, a pediatrician affiliated with Allegan General Hospital in Allegan, Mich. "Eliminate sugar-sweetened drinks from the house, and make fruits and vegetables the snack foods of choice. If you start with unhealthy serve as a stepping-off point for positive choices in the future, says Dr. Indrajit Majumdar, medical director of Children's Healthy Weigh. "It isn't a taboo topic, nor should it be," says Dr. Majumdar. "Sometimes family members think they're being cruel to restrict unhealthy food intake, or point out lifestyle areas where things could improve. But it's the right thing to do, if done compassionately." • foods when a child is a toddler, it's much harder to instill good eating habits later." It's also vital for adults to encourage and model an active lifestyle by engaging in physical family activities that everyone enjoys. And even when you don't have time to go outside and play with your children, you can still help them to remain active. "Tell the kids to go outside and do anything they enjoy," Dr. Franzen suggests. "Dancing, shooting baskets, playing tag—whatever it is, as long as it involves being outdoors and being active." Making the prevention and treatment of obesity a community effort is another valuable tactic. That's the idea behind programs like Children's Healthy Weigh of Buffalo, N.Y. "It's a multidisciplinary program that includes specialists in fitness, nutrition and medicine, focused on helping difficult-to-treat patients that might have special needs requiring more personalized attention," says Dr. Carroll M. Harmon, chief of surgery at Kaleida Health Women's and Children's Hospital of Buffalo in Buffalo, N.Y. "It's important, because while working with your child's pediatrician is a good first step, they're often overwhelmed with cases and can't deliver the specialized attention that might be necessary for certain kids." TALKING THE TALK Promoting a healthier lifestyle to prevent or reduce obesity among your loved ones starts with a frank and open conversation about food and lifestyle choices. These conversations can be difficult at first—nobody wants to be told they're making bad choices—but the dialogue can AGING WITH obesity If children aren't exposed to good diet and ftness habits at a young age, it becomes much more diffcult to reform bad habits and prevent obesity in adolescence and adulthood. And if bad habits become entrenched, the risk for obesity and its accompanying health problems increases as a person ages. "Obesity increases the risk of many types of health problems over time, such as orthopedic injuries and arthritis, back problems and sleep apnea, in addition to cardiovascular problems and other types of internal infammation brought about by the hormones that are secreted by [fat] tissue," says Dr. Craig Morgenthal, affliated with Baptist Health Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Fla. 10 5 steps 1. Make healthy food choices consistently. 2. Consume appropriate portion sizes. 3. Stay physically active as a family. 4. Cut down on screen time, preferably two hours a day or less. 5. Keep track of everyone's weight, body mass index and waist circumference. Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to preventing obesity in your family

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