More than a third of adults in the United States – 35.1 percent – are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Nearly 70 percent are at least overweight, and obesity in adolescents has quadrupled in the past three decades.
“Despite all the attention, an unhealthy amount of body fat remains an insidious problem,” says Dr. Eleazar Kadile, who specializes in treating patients with obesity and associated chronic disease.
“Most of us know we’re facing a national health crisis, yet diets for millions of Americans continue to be based in heavily processed foods. Obese people often live in perpetual shame, and many others believe they are right to blame the overweight and obese for their problem.”
Dr. Kadile, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine and author of “Stop Dying Fat” (www.kppmd.com), says poor attitudes and lack of understanding contribute significantly to this national crisis, which contributes to our national healthcare difficulties. He debunks five myths about being overweight and obese.
– “It’s your fault that you’re fat.” Obesity is caused by complex imbalances within a person’s body and his or her environment. Some imbalances are exacerbated by poor dietary choices based on bad dietary information, personal history and psychological patterns. Together, the physiological, psychological, social and environmental causes of the disease of obesity create a predicament that obese people are drawn into and unable to get out of.
– Obese people are among the “fat and happy.” Large people can be masters at suppressing the indignities they suffer in society. The obese often have to pay first-class fare since cheaper seats for transportation are designed for thinner people. Most advertisements employ beautiful people who are thin, and rarely attractive actors who are larger. National campaigns to battle obesity do not focus on the factors beyond diet and exercise that keep people overweight. Obese patients also spend an average of nearly $1,500 more each year on medical care than other Americans.
– Obese and overweight people just need the right diet. There’s no shortage of diets promoted by beautiful people who promise amazing results. If only overweight people eat what these beautiful people eat, then they’ll be beautiful, too. But that’s just not true. What and how one eats is just a part of an excessive body mass index level. Other important factors to achieving a healthy BMI include good information regarding one’s health, sustained motivation to change, continuous learning, vigilance and an ability to be extremely honest.
– Food is not an obese individual’s friend; exercise is. Eat less; exercise more; lose weight – those have been the commandments in the religion of weight loss. But most obese people have tried this and it hasn’t worked. More than being a source of pleasure, comfort and survival, food is medicine.
“I’ve developed a complementary set of protocols that target an obese person’s specific set of problems,” Dr. Kadile says. “Sometimes, you need to eat fat – the right kind – in order to burn fat. And, many exercises can actually harm an obese person. You can’t impose cookie-cutter solutions to this complex problem and expect them to work.”
– Fat people need to “just do it” – lose weight. This attitude is not based in reality; it’s an over-simplistic response for a frustrating problem.
“Morbidly obese patients need plenty of preparation,” he says. “When a patient comes to me, I go through a rigorous list of questions regarding medical and family history. I ask about eating, sleeping and activity patterns, as well as medical conditions, emotional patterns, stress histories, good times and bad times, etc. I also have them go through an extensive battery of medical tests. That’s the effective and safe way of doing it.”
In other words, “just do it” just doesn’t cover it.