The importance of preventive medicine can’t be overstated. The best way to treat any injury or illness is not to get it in the first place. When we consider preventive medicine, one of the most important ways to engage in prevention on a daily basis is to control weight.
Recent studies have shown that our Utah population has exploded in more ways than numbers of people. We’ve also increased in size, increasing from 9% of us being obese in 1990 to 17.3% in 2000 and to 24.5% in 2016.
With this increase we can expect to see tremendous increases in health costs over the next few years. But let’s set aside the effects on society for a moment and consider what it means for each of us. Overweight and obese people suffer high rates of a whole host of diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, various cancers, arthritis, dangerous cholesterol problems, sleep apnea, breathing problems, depression, anxiety, and body pain. In other words, heavy people tend to die younger and suffer more along the way.
Achieving and maintaining healthy weight is a balancing act. We have to match the calories we take in against the calories we burn up, and provide ourselves with quality nourishment at the same time. A lot of diet plans focus on fat calories, sugar calories, or other segments of diet, but it is more important to get the right balance of healthy, natural food that provides clean energy to fuel positive physiological changes. Any successful diet must reduce intake of bad calories like those found in fast food and soda – no success can happen without that. At the same time, expending more calories involves that ugly but crucial E word: exercise. Combining a lower calorie diet high in vegetables and filling, natural foods with energy-consuming exercise has to be the foundation of any weight control program. It is important to include weight training in your exercise, as muscle burns more than fat does, so building muscle will keep your progress moving forward. I recommend that my patients who are going on a diet add a good multivitamin to their regimen so they don’t short change nutrition while they’re cutting back on how much they eat.
As a person tips the balance toward using more calories than he or she consumes, a pleasant surprise eventually happens. First the numbers on the bathroom scale gradually being to shrink. Then they’ll notice they have a little more energy. They can take the stairs two at a time again. They’ll feel more rested as their sleep improves. Those creaky, achy knees will be happier. They enjoy being outside with family more. What they won’t realize is that their cancer risk lessens, their sugar and cholesterol head back to where they should be, their blood pressure improves, and their outlook on life brightens. They feel better about the way they look and their self-esteem gets a boost, helping combat depression.
At Granger Medical Clinic, we’re excited about helping people come up with a diet and exercise regimen that will benefit our patient’s all-around health. When needed, we have experts we can call on for help. Our goal is to help our patients achieve lifelong improvement through healthy lifestyles. This success won’t be fast or easily, but it happens. And that’s something we could all use.
Dr. Depew practices Family Medicine at Granger Medical Parkway. He is accepting new patients. You can make an appointment by calling 801.253.0291.