Can Georgia tackle its surging obesity crisis?

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In September, a very concerning report was published about obesity in Georgia. This report showed that 31.6% of adults in the state are suffering from obesity. This increase put Georgia above the national average.

Unfortunately, the problem is likely to get worse if it is not fixed. The report showed that a lack of physical fitness is a major contributor, which is particularly worrisome in some of the biggest cities in Georgia.

“Atlanta placed 22nd in a recent fitness ranking of the largest 100 U.S. cities. The analysis was released in June by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem Inc., an Indianapolis-based health care company,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Weight Loss Needs to Be a Priority in Georgia

In many parts of the world, obesity is now the most obvious health epidemic. In the United States, one in three children is overweight or obese, which is high enough. Unfortunately, that figure is even higher in Georgia. This highlights the need for weight loss services like

Obesity in children has tripled in the last 30 years (16%, in children 6-19 years old). Obesity is among the top five causes of death worldwide and contributes to 44% of diabetes diagnoses.

Overweight is defined as excess weight (fat, muscle, bone, water) for a particular height. Children and adolescents in Georgia can be considered overweight or obese if their body mass index (BMI) exceeds the 85th and 95th percentiles respectively on BMI curves, or if their weight exceeds 30 kg/m2 at any age.

Unfortunately, many people in Georgia have been particularly receptive to these messages. In 2012, the state tried developing a weight loss campaign, but people felt too criticized to take action. The problem in Georgia only worsened since then. Georgia Health News says the problem is becoming concerning.

Risks and consequences for children

Obesity in the pediatric age has short- and long-term effects on the overall health and well-being of children and adolescents. This is going to lead to a lot of problems in Georgia if the state doesn’t take drastic measures to curb weight gain.

In the short term, obese children are at increased risk for hypertension, hyperlipidemia, development of prediabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome. In addition, they may have bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems such as stigma and poor self-esteem. This could set the Georgia healthcare system back considerably as obesity problems become more evident as these children reach adulthood.

In the long term, they are more likely to be obese adults and therefore are at greater risk for various types of malignancies, heart disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Weight loss solutions can be essential for the Georgia healthcare system

Studies show that reducing excess weight through lifestyle changes such as exercise and dieting can reduce the incidence of cancer and decrease the occurrence of diabetes in 58% of people. Despite knowing that there are clear benefits to weight loss, it is harder than ever to lose weight today. We eat more and exercise less.

Our bodies are resistant to weight loss, due to a metabolic opponent to maintaining lost weight to conserve fat. The human genome favors the storage of excess calories as fat and this is a disadvantage for the body.

The cause of obesity is multifactorial: lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, social and socioeconomic factors, genetics, race and ethnicity, among others. Targeting only one of these factors does not have a significant impact on solving the problem.

There is a need to promote healthy lifestyles, including proper nutrition and physical activity. Physical activity and diet in children are influenced by many sectors of society: family, school, community, media, government agencies, the food, beverage and entertainment industry. The school plays a critical role in establishing guidelines for students to learn about healthy eating and appropriate physical activity.

With regard to the use of drugs for weight reduction, we must recognize that the possibilities are limited. The only FDA-approved weight-loss medication for adolescents is orlistat, an intestinal lipase inhibitor that produces gastrointestinal effects such as fatty stools, oily stains on underwear, and gallbladder dysfunction.

There are more drastic therapy alternatives such as bariatric surgeries, which can only be contemplated in young people in extreme cases and not before the age of 14. For all the above reasons we must conclude that our best tool is the most difficult one: change in lifestyles. This requires a great effort from the patient, his family and the treating physician to achieve adherence and permanence.

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