In the last few decades, we’ve seen a steady climb in the typical size of people’s waistlines.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 41% of Americans were obese by the year 2020. That’s a more than 10% increase from the year 2000. And this phenomenon isn’t unique to Americans. In the year 2020, 67% of England’s population was obese or overweight.
We need to discuss this rising tide, not to point fingers or bring shame on anyone, but to acknowledge why a healthy core weight and waistline are important. We also need to discuss why the traditional medical system hasn’t been able to help reverse this trend.
In this post, we’ll discuss the health implications of excess weight, some institutional hurdles weight loss faces in conventional medical practices, and what type of doctor you should see for weight loss.
Weight and Waistline — More Than Just Vanity Measurements
Too often, we’re tempted to think of weight and waistline measurements in terms of how people look. But appearance has nothing to do with the importance of maintaining a healthy waistline. Regardless of appearance, carrying excess weight is dangerous to your health.
Our bodies aren’t designed for excess. They’re designed to carry a little extra for a rainy day — for when we’re sick or unable to eat, for example — but otherwise they’re quite efficient at using energy for the business of moving and doing and being.
The trouble is that today we live in a world of excess. Energy, in the form of food, is readily available to most of us all the time. And when our bodies have it, they hoard it.
All this excess causes our “rainy day fund” to grow well beyond its intended proportions. The waistline expands, and the number on the scale increases.
Some of us are more genetically inclined to collect excess tissue than others and may never have seen our healthy waistline, even in childhood. But even without this genetic burden, most of us become energy hoarders over time.
So why is this cause for concern?
It’s concerning because this excess wreaks havoc on our bodies and ushers in disease.
What Conditions Correlate With Excess Weight?
Excess weight places an incredible strain on the body and leads to metabolic diseases of all kinds. This matters not only because metabolic diseases are serious in and of themselves, but also because metabolically challenged people are at greater risk from other afflictions as well.
Take COVID-19, for example, which disproportionately affected metabolically challenged people. Individuals carrying a lot of extra weight around their waistline had a much greater risk of severe infection, hospitalization, and death.
The long-term stress of excess tissue storage on the body can lead to a wide range of issues, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Sleep apnea
- Fatty liver
- Acid reflux
- Impaired immune system
Excess weight also has potential links to certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease. Ultimately, it leads to a shorter life span.
It’s true that people with healthy waistlines can get many of these diseases, including severe COVID, as well. What we want to point out is that life and illness are hard enough anyway; we don’t want to accelerate our risk if we don’t have to.
Why Is It Hard to Talk to Doctors About Weight?
Weight is a very personal thing, and it can be an emotional topic. Just mentioning it can be difficult. The modern healthcare system isn’t set up for having open and honest conversations about things like weight, mental health, or other personal life situations.
And then there’s the problem that physicians often don’t know what to say when people do bring up weight loss. Nutritional science is all over the map, and everyone’s body type and metabolism are so vastly different. What works for one person may not work for another.
What’s more, many doctors have to see so many patients per day that they simply don’t have time to talk about weight loss in much detail. And, typically, insurance companies don’t reimburse doctors for things like weight loss counseling. Insurance only pays once a condition has developed, but that’s exactly what we’re trying to avoid.
Sometimes, a doctor has the same unhealthy weight as their patient. This can make it difficult to offer advice, and make patients less likely to follow it.
Nearly three-quarters of the U.S. population is now obese or overweight, and drug companies are busy pumping out medications to deal with the effects. This normalization of excess weight in our society means people may not recognize there’s any need for change. Why should I see a doctor for weight loss? I look like everyone else.
What Type of Doctor Should You See for Weight Loss?
As soon as you feel ready to discuss what isn’t working regarding your weight with a doctor, you should. There is absolutely no guilt or shame involved here. It’s courageous to take that first step.
The best place to start is with a primary care physician you can trust and who’s committed to figuring this out alongside you. They can help navigate this journey with you, getting you the best advice and the most useful tools. They can guide you to the right personal trainer, registered dietician, medication, or even bariatric surgeon if needed.
At Griffin Concierge Medical, we want everyone to realize that excess weight isn’t their fault, and that they shouldn’t feel guilty or ashamed. Rather, you should feel safe and comfortable speaking with your doctor about your weight and weight loss goals.