Hope & Healing: The UF Health Blog

3 Things you Should Know About Obesity

Television shows like NBC’s The Biggest Loser” and ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss” seem to showcase a country in which weight loss, fitness and a commitment to a healthy lifestyle are a priority, but for many Americans, body-image reality is much different. More than 78 billion American adults are obese, accounting for more than one-third the population.

Major health organizations, including the World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health, American Medical Association, National Academy of Sciences and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have classified obesity as a disease.

“Obesity is an epidemic in our country and the rates of obesity are rising at alarming rates independent of age, gender or race,” said Jeffrey Friedman, M.D., F.A.C.S, assistant professor in the division of general surgery at the UF College of Medicine and director of bariatric surgery at the UF Health Weight Loss Surgery Center.

Here are three things you may not know about this growing problem, and tips for how you can choose a healthier lifestyle.

Morbid obesity is costly

Annual medical costs associated with obesity are estimated to be as high as $147 billion, rivaling costs associated with tobacco use. Obese people have average annual medical costs that are $1,429 more than people who are a healthier weight. Medical budgets aren’t the only way obesity costs individuals: the indirect cost and loss of productivity is $4 billion per year, with 40 million work days lost annually due to obesity and illnesses worsened by the condition.

Morbid obesity affects your entire body

Obesity hurts your body in many ways beyond the obvious strain on your heart and joints.

“When a person gains weight, it affects every organ system in their body and increases the risk of developing high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, reflux disease, diabetes and even cancer,” Friedman said. “People who are obese and lose weight see the risks of developing these conditions decrease as their weight decreases.”

Obesity has effects on your body systems in various ways including: 

• Reduced wound healing 

• Increased risk of heart disease 

• Increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes 

• Higher rates of sexual dysfunction 

• Increased risk of breast cancer in women 

• Increased risk of osteoarthritis 

• Increase risk of gallbladder disease

Obesity is deadly

Obesity is more than gaining a few extra pounds after the holidays, or realizing your pants are a bit too tight. More than 112,000 deaths each year are attributed to obesity — more than breast cancer and colon cancer combined. It’s also the second most common cause of death from a modifiable risk factor. Being morbidly obese can reduce your life span up to 22 years.

Obesity is harmful to your health and your wallet, but it is also treatable. Friedman recommends medical weight loss that focuses on diet, behavior modification, exercise, counseling — and, in some cases, surgical therapy. With these tools, patients can improve their quality of life and get back to living.

Join Friedman for a free monthly seminar for patients who are interested in learning more about medical weight loss and surgical therapy for obesity.

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Amanda Austin

Social Media Coordinator

Amanda manages UF Health's Facebook and Twitter accounts, and curates information about healthy and wellness, health industry news, and updates on UF Health research....Read More