Obesity – A Disease or a Condition

About the Center

Being overweight or obese isn’t as simple as eating too much. Losing the excess weight isn’t as easy as going on a diet. Yet, it is more important than ever for Americans to get control of this issue since 2/3 of adults and 1/3 of children and adolescents are now overweight or obese.

The American Medical Association’s decision to categorize obesity as a disease allows insurance companies to cover treatments for the 35.7% of adults who are obese. Insurance plans typically do not cover the treatment plans and counseling necessary to help correct our bulging waists. The industry has, however, been paying indirectly because obesity lends itself to many other health conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The CDC reported that $147 billion was spent on medical care costs associated with obesity in 2008 and the costs have undoubtedly increased exponentially.

An increase in body fat is a result of a plethora of imbalances. Lets look at why so many people are loosening their belt.

• Our food supply: Grains are converted to simple sugars, which are converted to triglycerides, the body’s storage form of energy. Simply put, eating a grain based diet results in the addition of body fat. In addition, imbalances in essential fats and consumption of processed fats contribute to inflammatory processes that disrupt normal metabolism. Meat from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) is laden with hormones and antibiotics that contribute to metabolic and gut flora imbalances. Genetically modified foods are known to cause detrimental health consequences, yet current legislature fails to pass labeling laws to allow people to protect themselves from being guinea pigs.

• Nutrient deficiencies/excess: Yes, eating too much leads to weight gain. The old adage, “calories in, calories out” holds true, but did you know that certain foods cause more weight gain than others? High Fructose Corn syrup, found in nearly every processed food on the market is directly converted to body fat. In addition, high fructose corn syrup does not stimulate hormones that tell our brain to stop eating and it may even stimulate hormones that promote increased feeding.

• Movement/exercise: We are simply are not as active today. We have eliminated the need to work for sustenance and we have a food system that promotes cheap, readily available, nutrient deficient food that is chockfull of unhealthy ingredients. We have become spectators as we sit on the couch watching others pretend to live. Video games have replaced physical activity, to the point where exergames were developed to pull people off the couch. “Calories out” means the portion of calories that are burned for energy. If very few calories are burned up with movement and exercise, it is easy for the “calories in, calories out” equation to be tipped to the left.

• Imbalances in the body: hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, sex hormone and neurotransmitter imbalances all impair normal metabolic function for energy production and promote storage of adipose (fat) tissue.
o Hormone imbalances: Our sex hormones have a tremendous effect on body weight. Our constant exposure to xenoestrogens (chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body) from the environment and the food and water supply causes an imbalance of hormones.
o Excess cortisol from prolonged stress causes increased belly fat deposition and impairs immune system functioning.
o Consumption of sugar and processed foods leads to the development of insulin resistance, which causes further hormonal imbalances.
o Neurotransmitter imbalances cause us to crave foods high in carbohydrates (serotonin) and/or have a lack of control in regard to eating (dopamine).

• Inflammation and gut dysbiosis: Antibiotic and corticosteroid use, as well as consumption of sugars and refined foods have caused an imbalance in our gut microbes. Science is just beginning to unravel the mystery of how the bacteria in the gut can influence feeding behavior, nutrient absorption and even our mood. In addition, food allergies/intolerances can cause inflammatory conditions in the gut. The resultant malabsorption leads to nutrient deficiencies, which then causes an inability for the body to make the enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, etc. for proper metabolism. The gut dysbiosis and nutrient deficiency results in cravings for foods that offer instant energy – simple carbohydrates combined with fat.

• Impaired detoxification: The liver is the primary detoxification organ and with today’s plethora of chemical exposure from the environment, foods, water and personal care products, it is literally struggling to keep up. As we age, our liver becomes less efficient in the processes needed to rid the body of toxins. The resultant development of disease causes the body to react by storing energy (fat) to help ensure survival.

• Behavioral/psychological issues with food: Many people develop unhealthy eating behaviors as a result of trying to live up the media’s unrealistic portrayal of idealism. Many are familiar with media “photoshopping”, but those who aren’t, especially teenagers, develop a love-hate relationship with food that can lead to serious eating disorders.

Obesity is not a disease. It is a condition resulting from the above contributing factors. To help reverse the epidemic of obesity, it was categorized as a disease so people could get the medical care needed to help reverse their condition. The problem is that standard medical care focuses on treatments, such as bariatric surgery that do not correct the behavioral/psychological disorders and metabolic imbalances, nor does it provide education for people to develop a way of life that promotes health and ideal body weight.

I will be implementing a new program for weight management this fall: A Way of Life. This 12 week weight management program gives you the tools to obtain your ideal body weight for a lifetime. No more yo-yo dieting, dependency on diet products, dangerous drugs or hormones.

Participants are medically evaluated on an individual basis to determine treatments needed to correct imbalances in hormones, brain chemistry, gut flora and/or nutrients.

A detailed diet plan and coaching help you lose body fat without deprivation or loss of energy.

Weekly classes help participants learn how different foods affect the body’s physical and psychological health as well as body composition (fat vs. muscle tissue). Psychological aspects of eating will be reviewed by a certified eating psychology coach.

You’ll learn why we crave certain foods, which foods cause storage of body fat and which foods help burn fat. Recipes and demonstrations will help you eat deliciously and easily.

Willing participants will assist and encourage each other. You may also further your work with a psychological eating coach in addition to the A Way Of Life program.

The program will begin in August, 2013 and will repeat in January 2014 and again in March 2014. Call 928-515-2363 for more details.

Hi, I’m Dr. Cheryl Hamilton