Get the PDF version of this article by Vicki Pepper, M.S., R.D. Kaiser Permanente, San Diego, CA If only you would lose some weight. You’ve heard that phrase a million times and then you hear things like…your knees or back wouldn’t hurt so much…your blood cholesterol would come down…you could go off blood pressure medication…avoid diabetes…get pregnant…get healthy…get a date…be happy…whatever! You know these things are true, but the idea of losing all your extra weight can be overwhelming, making it easier to give up and do nothing at all. The trouble with fat is that many people blame all their problems on it, but the truth is too much fat isn’t as much of a health problem as the lifestyle choices that lead to weight gain. Regaining and maintaining your health doesn’t necessarily mean attaining an ideal body weight. It may be more about making a few different choices on a daily basis. Physicians advise weight loss for various health problems because they know that restricting calories to the point of weight loss helps correct metabolic disturbances in the body. Losing as little as 10% body weight can reverse blood sugar problems, lower blood pressure, and decrease elevated blood lipids (cholesterol). That means that a six foot, 290 pound man needs to lose about 29 pounds to see health benefits. At 261 lbs. he may still be considered overweight—but as his blood sugar normalizes and blood lipids decrease with his 29 lb. loss, he is in much better health. The benefits of restricting calories can be seen in the dramatic effects of bariatric surgery on health. The surgery reduces the amount of food that can be eaten or absorbed. Blood sugar values typically normalize within days or weeks of having bariatric surgery even though patients are still carrying 100 lbs. or more of extra body fat. Luckily, the same health benefits are easy to achieve without the risk of surgery. We see the phenomena in Kaiser Permanente’s Positive Choice Weight programs participants every day. Over two-thirds of insulin dependent, type 2 diabetics—some of whom have struggled with diabetes for decades—attain normal blood sugar values within the first several weeks of using OPTIFAST® supplement in our full fast weight...Read More
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