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home : lifestyle : lifestyle today   July 25, 2016

8/8/2013 9:55:00 AM
Obesity as disease could alter treatment

Illinois Valley Community Hospital dietitian Brittney Junker describes obesity and Body Mass Index. Junker says depending on your height and gender working toward a healthy BMI will help you overcome obesity.NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
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Illinois Valley Community Hospital dietitian Brittney Junker describes obesity and Body Mass Index. Junker says depending on your height and gender working toward a healthy BMI will help you overcome obesity.

NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
Alicia LeGrand-Riniker
NewsTribune Reporter

Earlier this year, the American Medical Association declared obesity a disease. Since then,  a debate has raged on what this means and how it will affect the American population.
Currently, one-third of adults in America are considered obese. Brittney Junker, registered dietitian at Illinois Valley Community Hospital, Peru, said obesity is classified has having a body mass index above 30. She added that Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime would have been considered obese because of his BMI. A BMI is based on height versus weight and does not take into account age, gender, muscle mass and activity, Junker said.
“Someone could be very healthy and have a BMI that labels them obese,” she said.
Junker said this has caused much debate on how to label someone as obese and what treatment options should be available to the patient. However, with this new decision doors might be open to more research and suggestions on how to classify and treat obesity.
Another benefit, said Junker, is that patients and doctors can openly talk about the disease and perhaps treatment will now be covered by insurance.
“I think it does afford physicians the opportunity to address that problem officially,” said Dr. Robert Kinsella, a board certified physician at Butterfly Landing Medi-Spa, Peru.
He and many others healthcare professionals believe obesity is the underlining cause of many other diseases, including heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Kinsella said being able to address it would be a huge benefit to doctors as now time can be spent on adjusting the problem. Junker said that right now a heath professional has to wait until a patient develops one of these life threatening and altering diseases until it can bill and openly address weight issues.
“It is definitely a concern, no matter what way you look at it. We need to do something about obesity. So maybe this is a step in the right direction,” she said.
Junker also is worried that due to the American belief that everything can be solved quickly with a pill or a surgery, patients will seek out more cosmetic way to fix their obesity problem than actually getting educated about the disease. Kinsella said he also worries that people will fail to sustain the healthy habits they need to combat obesity.
“This is not a situation that has a quick answer,” he said.
Both Kinsella and Junker agree that they do not know if obesity being declared a disease actually will lessen the amount of obese people in America.
“It’s such a complex disease. I think it really is because it does have that behavior aspect of I can choose what I eat and I can choose how active to be,” Junker said.
She said people can also overeat due to social, chemical and emotional reasons. She that it also has that close link with medical issues which makes it difficult to overlook.
“I think it is one of those diseases that is difficult to put a label on. We’ll see where it goes,” she said. “I’m actually kind of excited to see what the future holds with this topic because it is important. I think a lot of underlining causes of many diseases has to due with weight.”
“It’s really hard to ignore that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic,” Kinsella said. “But I know there is a growing recognition of what the underlining problem is.”
Junker said weight management is about calories in vs. calories out.
“It sounds simple but it is more complex for some people,” she said.
IVCH holds a program called Real Results, a 13-week course to educate attendees about health and provide them with tools to loose weight. Junker said a support group was formed that people can attend after the program to continue their weight loss efforts.
“It’s called real results for a reason. We see great results,” she said.
Kinsella has a different approach to the problem. He suggests the types and combinations of foods that a person eats have a much greater importance. He believes the amount of carbohydrates a person eats affects their weight greatly. He said Americans today eat 30 percent more carbohydrates than they did in the 1960s and the obesity rate has jumped from one in nine to one in three people as obese. He said the sugar and white flour carbohydrates that are absorbed cause an increase in insulin levels and affect people’s weight.
“That is not widely recognized yet,” he said.
Kinsella said he is hopeful the medical community will be proactive toward tackling the problem. He believes that many doctors still need to change their own attitudes about weight loss.

Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, August 10, 2013
Article comment by: MotherEarthSpeaks

Becoming responsible for our own health is intrinsic to full health--physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. We are whole beings, and one cannot isolate one part, the physical, and expect to obtain optimum results.

Declaring this condition as a disease does NOTHING to abate it except allow the medical industry another way into your pocketbook--charge more fees, give more drugs etc. It also impacts to the delicate emotional condition of these newly "labeled" "diseased" people.

To burden an already overwhelmed, time constrained, limited, ineffective system with additional over-medicated, over treated "patients" seems absurd.

The only benefit I can foresee is that a medical doctor will "prescribe" organic foods, pure water, and an elimination of processed, chemically laden processed foods, or GMO (if they really want to assist their patients.) Claiming these healthful foods, to be reimbursed by medical insurance, MAY be fruitful, and make premiums reasonable as the costs of pharma and traditional care skyrocket!!!

The corporations responsible for highly effective "addictive" advertising, flavorings, "fake" food, and mutilated seed production MUST become responsible and fund this program totally.

And the media could stop the hype--the articles on Twinkies, for example.

In my opinion a parent that feeds these types of "food" to their children are effecting a form of child abuse. The health effects of even a minimum exposure to these chemicals in the system can cause permanent damage to natural healthful intestinal organisms, for example. The poorest are at most risk for this.
Feed better food, reduce Medicaid. It is THAT simple.

BTW--where were the comments on fast food and the Twinkie article by these dieticians? Perhaps I missed them.

Sometimes, the media seems more afraid of alienating their corporate advertisers, and reducing their revenue streams, than informing the public in a balanced way.

When your palate is changed to an organic diet, the food tastes better, gives more real nourishment and energy, enhances brain activity, balances weight, and assist in the prevention and alleviation of depression.

So does fresh air and sunshine.

The financial cost of these simple solutions is miniscule compared to the medical/insurance industry solution.

Time to change!

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