Several years ago, I had a very interesting encounter with a young couple. The wife was insistent that her obese husband change his eating habits and start a regular exercise program. The husband adamantly refused, stating that all his family members were obese as well as diabetic. He was therefore convinced that this would be his destiny and saw no value in changing his lifestyle.
It is a mistake to think that health is predestined. Health is a choice!
What we know for sure is that poor health accelerates the aging process and can eventually lead to early death. Therefore, while genetics can play a role in instances of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and cerebrovascular disease, scientists are also well aware that these diseases can be delayed, inhibited, accelerated, or altogether prevented, depending on your lifestyle.
The Elephant in the room
A common denominator in increasing the risk for developing diabetes, hypertension, obstructive sleep, arthritis and other chronic conditions is obesity. CDC statistics as of 2017-2018 indicate that 42.4% of the US adult population is obese with the percentage being higher among Non-Hispanic Black adults and Hispanic adults.
Why is obesity seeing such an increase?
People are consuming inappropriately large amounts of calories that they are unable to use. The extra calories, if not expended or burned during physical activity, gets stored as glycogen. This glycogen is later converted into fat tissue which leads to obesity. Several key environmental and cultural factors have come together over the past few decades to markedly increase the risk of active and passive overeating. Chief among these is the availability of cheap, energy-dense diets, usually high in fat and the transition towards extremely sedentary lifestyles.
Overeating, poor food choices and lack of physical activity will definitely lead to obesity.
Here are the facts:
- Obese patients are at an increased risk for insulin resistance
- Obese patients are unable to effectively metabolize glucose
- Obese patients are predisposed to developing type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes puts patients at a higher risk for developing other diseases such as coronary artery disease, stroke, renal failure, and blindness
However, obesity is a challenge that can be addressed. As a practicing physician for almost 30 years, I have become uncomfortable with only prescribing a hypertensive pill to a 22-year old male with a blood pressure of 160/90, a weight of 300 pounds, and a BMI of 50. I know that I will serve him better if I am able to give him a plan to achieve lifestyle changes and a way to lose weight. The latter, I am sure, will give him a better chance of leading a normal life.
First step to changing your health destiny
You MUST BELIEVE. Believe that there is hope beyond diabetes, hypertension, obesity and heart disease. You hold the key to your health success, and you do not have to live with these diseases or fear developing them later in life. There is hope for you if you already have any of these diseases and are on medication. I have many patients who were once dependent on multiple drugs and have seen a decrease or complete elimination of these medications after lifestyle change was implemented. There are no quick fix diets that will miraculously keep you healthy long term. However, lifestyle change can get you and keep you healthier than you are today.
If you believe there is hope and you begin adopting evidence based lifestyle modification principles, you will see and feel the difference. This means meal-by-meal, making good choices, day-by-day getting in some exercise, night-by-night getting adequate sleep, moment-by-moment keeping stressors under control and you will see the changes and feel so much better.
If you need some help obtaining this lifestyle, feel free to reach out to the Cooper Wellness Center at 956-627-3106 or check out our virtual programs at cooperwellnesscenter.com.
To your health,
Dona Cooper-Dockery, MD