Obesity is a major risk factor in the development of many diseases. New research suggests that greater than 2/3 of the United States of America’s population is either overweight or obese. Controlling the underlying cause (obesity) is instrumental in the treatment and prevention of these conditions. Below is a brief listing of common comorbid conditions.
Insulin Resistance & Type II Diabetes
Diabetes is an international epidemic whose etiology is linked to obesity; therefore a first line effort in preventing, managing and treating Type II Diabetes is losing weight. A myriad of studies show that modest weight loss helps increase metabolic control and minimize the effects, both short and long term, of the disease. Recent guidelines and clinical evidence recommend the need for proper nutrition and weight loss as critical components of treatment goals (Glycemic, Blood Pressure and Lipid control). It’s well studied that Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCD) can help patients achieve all three. Diet-induced weight loss can help improve beta-cell function by mobilizing surrounding fat (an underlying cause of Type II Diabetes), improving blood pressure, and decreasing blood cholesterol all within seven days of starting a VLCD. Ultimately, long term control via weight loss and lifestyle management results in improving metabolic control, quality of life measures as well as reducing and/or eliminating medications.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects just about one third of those living in America, with those who are overweight or obese being at highest risk. Hypertension is most often controlled through lifestyle modification (diet and exercise) and medication, if necessary. The clinical evidence demonstrates that the following list of lifestyle modifications greatly reduces your risk: weight loss, exercise, decreased sodium intake, meditation/mindfulness practice and smoking cessation (if currently using tobacco products). As a result of weight loss from a VLCD, patients experience up to a 10% reduction in risk of stroke, hypertension and atrial fibrillation.
Dyslipidemia is defined as an abnormality of blood lipids, or blood fats such as triglycerides and cholesterol. The most common dyslipidemia associated with obesity is elevated triglycerides, typically a result of the accompanying insulin resistance. When patients start a VLCD there are tremendous clinical improvements with a reduction in triglycerides, and long-term maintenance shows an improvement in overall blood lipid profile. Most patients who are successful with weight loss will also experience a reduction, if not elimination, of medications used to control their dyslipidemia.
Cardiovascular disease is the general term for diseases of the heart and circulatory system. It’s well known that as BMI increases the incidences of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), Stroke, Atrial Fibrillation (AF) and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) also increase. Fortunately, clinical research has established that even mild weight loss while following a VLCD (about 5% loss in baseline) demonstrates a clinically significant reduction in blood pressure, improvements to both blood lipids and insulin sensitivity. Changes in each of these markers will prove beneficial to overall risk of cardiovascular disease.
Sleep apnea is a medical disorder characterized by one or more pauses of breath or shallow breathings during sleep. These pauses last for mere moments or sometimes longer. Obesity related sleep apnea (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) occurs when extra tissue slides over the airway, obstructing and disturbing sleep. This is often a chronic (ongoing) issue and, when undiagnosed can increase risk of hypertension, stroke, diabetes and heart attack. While there are medical interventions such as c-pap breathing machines, the first real line of defense is weight loss, and one clinical proven way of losing weight is following a VLCD.
Over 80,000 cases of cancer diagnoses are directly related to obesity. In fact, obesity and overweight is connected to up to 20% of total yearly cancer diagnoses. Some associated cancers with great risk are colon cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer and cancers of the gallbladder, pancreas, kidney, prostate and esophagus. Obesity can affect the therapies used to treat these cancers and also raises the overall risk of second malignancies. A primary method to help reduce the overall risk and help with treatments is following a VLCD to help facilitate weight loss and work to adopt healthier lifestyle choices that includes more daily physical activity.
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