Step by Step

At Quartz, we support you along your journey to a life well-lived. In this feature article by Dr. Patricia Tellez, you’ll find ways to manage your health, and your family’s health.

Dr. Tellez, a professor at the University of Wisconsin Family Medicine, sees patients at Wingra Clinic.

Obesity is an excess in the amount of fat in our body. There are formulas to calculate the proper weight. These formulas measure your body fat based on height and weight, known as BMI (Body Mass Index). These formulas show whether a person is overweight or obese.

What causes obesity and being overweight?

There are multiple causes, such as hereditary or hormonal causes or psychological problems, but the most frequent is an inappropriate lifestyle.

Our weight is regulated by the quantity and quality of food we eat daily and our physical activity. If we eat a lot and don’t exercise regularly, we gain weight. Many people blame hormonal changes for their obesity, but this only happens in very few cases.

Many of us had a very healthy diet and a good level of physical activity when we lived in our countries, but that changed when we arrived in this country. We started eating fast foods and being less physically active. Most people watch their weight to look better, but that should not be the main reason. We must control our weight to be healthy.

Obesity also affects our children. This problem can occur when they are babies because we think that chubby children are healthier, and we also do not teach our children the importance of good nutrition and exercise.

Unfortunately, obesity rates in the United States are rising; 36.5% of adults are obese. Another 32.5% are overweight. Obesity affects 1 in 6 children in the United States. 17% of US children ages 2-19 are obese. That’s more than 12.7 million children. One in 8 preschool children is obese. The good news is that obesity rates among preschool children have been declining in recent years.

Obesity can cause serious health problems

Obesity can cause diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, cholesterol, joint damage, and respiratory problems. When people with these diseases manage to control their weight, they can prevent them, use fewer medications, or eliminate them.

Each of us has tried to lose weight at some point, and we know that it is not easy, but it is not impossible either. Don’t be fooled; there is no magic medicine or method to lose weight. We must learn to have good eating habits and teach our children how to have a healthy lifestyle.

Here are some tips to help you lose weight:

  • Don’t go on temporary “diets,” instead, learn to eat healthier, eat fruits and vegetables at least three times a day, cook with less fat and eat less red meat.
  • Consume minimal amounts or stop consuming soft drinks/sodas, sweets, cakes, or bread.
  • Eat every meal. When we eat late or don’t eat, our metabolism slows down, and we gain more weight. It is better to eat smaller portions every two or three hours.
  • Exercise every day, walk 30 minutes to an hour; that’s all it takes. If you also want to shape your muscles, do some weights.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Start little by little. If you try to change your whole life from one day to the next, it will be challenging for you, and you will not continue it. Be patient and talk to your doctor about your health and fitness.

Obesity is a severe and complex problem; its treatment can be challenging. Be patient; remember, STEP BY STEP! The most important thing to solve it is to decide to take the first step and change our bad eating habits, increase our physical activity, and maintain these changes for the rest of our lives.

By Dr. Patricia Téllez Girón

Professor at the University of Wisconsin Department of Family Medicine and Doctor at the Wingra Clinic.

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