ON CALL: A new mindset about obesity

2013-02-02T04:00:00Z ON CALL: A new mindset about obesity Rapid City Journal

I need to tell you frankly that trying to encourage people to lose weight is like telling them they should stop growing older or to advise men going bald to stop losing hair.

Most heavy people would love to be thinner, but it seems once the weight comes on, it is destined to stay there.

People blame the American diet, excesses of labor-saving devices, and the addiction too many of our children have to video games.

I believe that the epidemic of obesity in our society has something to do with the inactivity of our youth, but we don’t know why some adults are heavy and some are thin. I will even go one step further and say that until we truly understand why obesity happens, we will not have an effective non-surgical treatment.

One thing is for sure, obesity is not due to excessive eating alone. More than one study points out that many thin people eat more than many obese people. The corollary is also true: Simply deciding to eat less does not solve the problem, at least in the long run.

The most successful of commercial methods, such as Weight Watchers or TOPS, apparently help only about one third of participants lose significant weight. What’s worse, only one third of those are able to keep it off one year. After five years, virtually all have regained their original weight.

Here is the good news: There is new data that shows that heavy people who are able to significantly exercise don’t lose weight but gain in quality of life. These heavy exercisers have the same chance for a long and healthy life as thin people.

We all need a new mindset. Instead of making weight loss the goal, which for the most part is unachievable, we should do all we can to bring people to exercise, and that goes double for our kids.

Let’s get off that couch and get moving, even if it’s limited at first. And then we should love ourselves for doing it, whatever weight we may be.

Dr. Rick Holm is the host of “On Call,” a weekly call-in program about health on South Dakota Public Broadcasting that is produced by the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service. "On Call" airs at 6 p.m. Thursdays. Holm has practiced general internal medicine and geriatrics in South Dakota for more than 20 years.

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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