EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Obesity drags down health for Americans 

Apr 10
2010

By Ian McFadden

As work, family, and social obligations compete for our time, our days get busier and our stress levels get higher. It is often difficult to juggle work and family demands, resulting in using "fast food" options for eating and a reduction in our physical activity and exercise. Hours spent watching TV, playing video games and exploring the world via computers also lead to a more sedentary lifestyle for children and adults. All of this has made many of us obese and unhealthy.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention almost 30 percent of Indiana's adult population is obese, while more than 33 percent of all adult Americans are obese. This number is staggering, especially when obesity-related health conditions add up to $150 billion a year in health care costs. The rise of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes, joint problems, sleep apnea, heart disease and cancer is directly related to the rise in obesity.

Today, we must make our health and staying healthy a top priority as we consider our future quality of life, not only for ourselves, but for future generations. The most effective route to health is by making healthy food choices, staying active and taking a proactive approach to maintaining and monitoring our health.

And the problem of obesity is not limited to adults. Just as Methodist Hospitals is "Leading the way to Health" in Northwest Indiana, First Lady Michelle Obama is leading our nation in the pursuit of sustained good health through the recently launched Let's Move! initiative. Let's Move! brings community leaders, teachers, doctors, nurses and parents together to tackle the challenge of childhood obesity, focusing on healthy eating and exercise.

For everyone, engaging in 30 minutes of activity during the day has been proven to have a great impact, not only on weight, but on overall well-being.

This can be achieved by traditional exercise or by making simple changes such as opting for the stairs instead of the elevator, walking our pets or spending an afternoon in the garden. Encouraging children to participate in sports and play outdoors not only improves their physical health but also builds self-esteem, social skills and lifelong healthy habits.

For some individuals, diet and exercise changes may not be enough. For these individuals weight loss surgery may be an option. Methodist Hospitals was the first to provide weight loss surgery services in Northwest Indiana and is the only program in the region to receive the distinction of a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Our ReStart Center, offers three surgical procedures for weight loss options as well as a medically managed weight loss program. Each of these programs provides a medically supervised means to achieve a healthier weight and lifestyle tailored to each individual's needs.

Fortunately, Medicare led the way in recognizing surgical intervention as a medical necessity for some and in providing payment for weight loss surgery.

Most insurance companies have followed Medicare's lead and now cover these procedures. If you or someone you know has been unable to achieve a healthy weight and lifestyle through non-medical means, Methodist Hospitals' ReStart Center offers monthly educational seminars to help you determine if surgery is an option. Our program also provides comprehensive pre-operative screenings and post surgery follow up services to support patients in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For more information or to attend a monthly weight loss seminar, visit http://methodisthospitals.org or call (888) 909-DOCS.

Ian McFadden is President & CEO of Methodist Hospitals. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

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