Obesity is an epidemic

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Folks, we have an epidemic.

We all know at least a few people who are, shall we say, a bit plump. Hey maybe that is even you. But we also know that it is really rather rude to even mention anyone’s extra weight in any manner and on boy let’s not even think about “fat shaming.” So as a consequence our nation and indeed our world is now well along a huge growth cycle in the number of people who have reached obesity which is most often defined as being more than 20 pounds above ideal weight for ones height and gender.

Today using BMI or Body Mass Index as a measure has gained favor and will yield slightly different numbers, but if your ideal weight is let’s say 140 pounds and you weigh 160 pounds you are right at the doorway to full on obesity. And those of us qualifying as obese by any reasonable standard are soaring with more than 37 percent of American adults qualifying per CDC statistics. So what is the problem, you weigh a few extra pounds and you just adjust some things like clothing and all is well.

Actually not so much because not surprisingly there is another very much-related epidemic sweeping our world and that is a massive increase in folks diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. It is not quite a matter of “get fat become diabetic” but there absolutely is a very strong correlation between obesity and Type 2 diabetes. And this disease is spreading extremely fast.

The International Diabetic Federations has predicted one in ten people will be diabetic by 2035. Already North America spends the most healthcare dollars on diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control foresees an even gloomier picture predicting that one in three people in the world will be diabetic by 2050.

Gangrene (ClickHandler.ashx)

So what’s the big deal, they have medication for diabetes – right? They sure do and one of the most common is Metformin, which is banned in some countries because among its many side effects is death. Oops! But there is far more to the disease we call Type 2 diabetes that everyone needs to be aware of and they include a far greater likelihood of getting very serious heart damage and blood vessel damage, eye problems including glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. And actually these are but a few of the many problems associated with if not necessarily specifically caused by obesity and its partner diabetes.

And then there is my personal favorite gangrene. Yep! Get Type 2 diabetes and you run the risk of somewhere down the line getting wet or dry gangrene. Now just imagine what it feels like the day you look at your foot and you see a dark spot. “Hmm!” you wonder, what the heck is that? Ah well maybe you just stubbed your toe. So you ignore it at first but then it doesn’t go away. In fact it seems to be getting bigger and there is some growing pain involved as well. So eventually you drag yourself over to your physician and he informs you that you have gangrene. But not to worry he only has to amputate that one foot — you get to keep the other.

I don’t know about you folks but I for one would very much like to avoid any and all of this rather than allow it to take over my body and then try and successfully treat it. Simply put, avoiding all disease is always a vastly superior choice than treating and the truth of the matter is that avoiding obesity and diabetes is far easier and more pleasant than treating it or even possibly dying from it. But unlike Type 1 diabetes which is treatable but cannot be eliminated, Type 2 can be for all practical purposes be expunged from your body, allowing you to live a longer, healthier and just flat out have a far more fun life. How is all of this possible you ask?

Eat smarter, eat less and move more. That’s it, now give me your $25 co-pay and get on with it. Seriously, I am not speaking about a college research study or some esoteric piece in a medical journal; I am talking from my very own life experience. Five years back I was very fat, well over 120 pounds overweight by any rational measure. Well as any knowledgeable person would have predicted I got brought down to the doorway of death by Congestive Heart Failure.

Kari Irwin

During my 26 days in the hospital, most of them in ICU, I came to realize that I really needed to make some important life changes. I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and Type 2 Diabetes. To my utter amazement not one medical person ever dared to mention my obvious obesity, which was the cause of all of the pain and suffering my family and I were experiencing. But the correlation did not escape me and I went immediately to work.

I radically altered my diet, shifting to a mostly plant based diet and avoiding sugar, fat and salt. I significantly increased my exercise to a point where these days I typically walk not less than 13.1 miles a day plus do a wee bit with weights every day. Consequently while I can’t ever truthfully say that I don’t have Type 2 diabetes or Congestive Heart Failure, I can in all honestly tell you that every one of the miserable symptoms are indeed gone. So while I may not have destroyed these deadly diseases I have through proper diet and exercise put them in a place where they just aren’t going to destroy me.

You bet I am happy but you know the one thing I really wish I had done different? I wish I had been smart enough to make those critical lifestyle changes BEFORE my far too close to permanent death experience. So please, do as the attached photo urges and you “Get Smart from my Stupid.” It really is a better choice.

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For those who need a little extra guidance there are many weight loss services available at a cost of hundreds even thousands of dollars. Then again for just $12.98 you can get the book Lose Live and accomplish the same thing but keeping more of your money.

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To read more of Ron’s health columns and theatre reviews, click here. And we invite you to join Ron on the Hollywood Health Hike April 30.

Top photo is a YouTube screen shot