Employee & Community Health

Myth or fact? Test your obesity knowledge

5/20/2019 by Dr. Ramona DeJesus

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Myth: Obesity is present only in the United States and industrialized countries. 

Fact: Obesity has spread worldwide in epidemic proportions. While more than one-third of adults in the U.S. are obese, it's now commonly seen even in low- and middle-income countries. Plus, there's been a 10-times increase in global childhood and adolescent obesity since 1975. At least 2.8 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. 

Myth: It's okay for children to be overweight. It shows they're healthy, and they'll outgrow their "baby fat". 

Fact: Overweight children are more likely to be obese as adults. They're also more likely than healthy-weight children to develop diabetes and cardiovascular disease at a younger age. 

Myth: If you're obese, you need to get your weight to normal to achieve health benefits. 

Fact: Research shows that a weight loss of 5-10% results in improved health outcomes, including lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and reduced cholesterol levels. Focus on slow, progressive weight loss with a goal of taking off 10% of your starting weight after six months. 

Myth: Only a few diseases are associated with obesity. 

Fact: More than 60 diseases have been linked to obesity; among them are diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, stroke and cancer. 

Myth: Not that many people die of obesity. 

Fact: Worldwide, obesity is one of the top-five leading causes of death. The other four leading causes are high blood pressure, tobacco use, high blood glucose and physical inactivity. 

People who are overweight or obese also miss more work days and spend more on medical bills than people of normal weight. The realities of carrying around excess weight can start to creep up on you and take its toll. The good news is that obesity is largely preventable, and a healthy diet and regular exercise can go a long way to help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. 

Dr. Ramona DeJesus is a general internist in Employee and Community Health's (ECH) Division of Community Internal Medicine (CIM). She completed her MD at the University of Florida and residency in internal medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She is board certified in both internal and obesity medicine. Her interests include chronic disease management in primary care and population health management of high-risk patients.