Weight Loss: The Secret To Living Longer?
The body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is classified as overweight, while a BMI of 30 and higher is considered obese. The number of people falling under these BMI categories has been increasing rapidly over the years, posing a public health concern as this excess weight makes individuals more susceptible to a range of serious health problems. In fact, a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealedthat moving from nonobese to obese sometime between young and middle adulthood was associated with a 22% risk of higher mortality.
In the same vein, those who lose weight and go from obese to nonobese were associated with 54% lower mortality.
Having excess weight significantly reduces life expectancy by increasing the risk of chronic diseases and premature death. In fact, while being overweight is simply a condition in which weight exceeds the appropriate threshold for an individual’s current height, obesity in itself is considered a complex disease. On top of this, it is a gateway to developing various other diseases that affect not only life expectancy but the overall quality of life.
One of these diseases is type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition in which the body is unable to properly utilize insulin, leading to higher sugar levels. Obesity is still considered one of its most common causes, as excess fat interferes with insulin function. While this disease is incurable, an individual can counter it through a combination of insulin therapy or diabetes medication like Metformin, plus a healthy lifestyle that can induce weight loss.
Besides chronic diseases, excess weight can cause acute conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is essentially a blood clot in one of the deeper veins. This is because excess fat can cause pressure in the veins located throughout the legs and pelvis. This can be treated through medication such as Lovenox or other anticoagulantsthat help prevent the blood from clotting and avoid serious complications that can abruptly end a person’s life, such as lung collapse and heart failure.
On the flip side, weight loss has a very positive influence on both life expectancy and quality of life. This is not only through lowering the risks of aforementioned diseases but also by improving factors such as mobility, mood, sleep quality, self-esteem, and many others.
Given all of the above, many overweight and obese individuals are encouraged to reach and maintain a more ideal weight for their body type. However, since obesity is a complex disease and is often influenced by factors besides simple diet and exercise, many have turned to other methods, such as medical weight loss to help shed weight.
For most, medical weight loss programs are an optimal choice as they involve FDA-approved medications to help counter any biology-based barriers that hinder people from losing weight. Many programs use Saxenda for weight loss, a prescription medication that works by mimicking the hormone GLP-1, which reduces appetite and increases feelings of fullness. This is a long-term medication that changes the physiology of one’s body over time to reduce calorie intake and help with lessening weight. According to a study conducted by pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, 85% of patients treated with liraglutide lost weight within a year.
On top of this, medical weight loss programs also put emphasis on consistency and lifestyle changes through adopting a healthy diet, getting enough proper sleep, exercising regularly, and many other methods. This is because the combination of medication and healthy habits is the key to achieving sustainable weight loss and having a longer and healthier life.
Besides medical weight loss programs, another medical weight loss option is bariatric surgery, which is typically for morbidly obese individuals (with a BMI of over 40) who need to lose weight much faster. It is a surgical procedure performed in the stomach and intestines to induce weight loss. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 90% of patients lost around half of their excess after the surgery and managed to keep the weight off. While effective, it also comes with its own risks, which is why medical professionals typically prescribe proton pump inhibitors (PPI) such as Nexiumfor around six weeks to as long as six months to minimize the risk of gastroesophageal reflux symptoms and ulcer formation.
Overall, there are various ways in which an individual can pursue a weight loss venture, with some such as medical weight loss, specifically designed for those who face more challenging obstacles. This is particularly important as maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of developing various health conditions, improve overall health, and live a longer and healthier life.