According to the U.S. Public Health Service, January is National Healthy Weight Awareness Month.
This seems pretty fitting since Statistic Brain reports that the number one resolution being made on January 1 is to lose some extra weight.
Based on this statistic alone, it’s clear that having an oversized waistline is on the minds of a large percentage of the population on the first day of each new year. This isn’t without good reason.
The obesity issue in the U.S.
The National Institutes of Health highlights the current problem our nation has with the extra fat we tend to carry on our frames. Specifically, they share that more than one-third (35 percent) “of U.S. adults are obese,” while an additional one-third (34 percent) are considered overweight. Sadly, this has negatively consequences when it comes to health.
For example, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases lists a multitude of health risks of being overweight ranging from the development of type 2 diabetes to heart disease to fatty liver disease. The American Psychological Association adds that there are psychological consequences as well, as having too much body fat increases a person’s risk of depression while decreasing their motivation to change their body size at the same time.
How DCs can help their patients reverse the trend
Being a healthcare professional, there are many things you can do to help your patients achieve and maintain a healthy weight, thus avoiding the negative effects of carrying excessive fat.
Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Educate them about how their weight affects their health
While most people already know that being overweight is harmful to them, they might not necessarily realize exactly why or how. That makes this a great opportunity for you to educate them about the many different health problems that can be created by being overweight.
2. Put it in real world terms
Once you’ve shared the negative effects of being overweight, the next step is to put it in real world terms so your patients can better understand.
For instance, talk about how having too much extra weight can make it difficult to climb up and down their stairs at home or how it can limit their play with their children or grandchildren. Listen to the things that are important to them and help them understand how having a healthier weight can help increase their enjoyment by making movement easier.
3. Talk about diet
The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition says that, “Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle.” Therefore, eating good-for-you foods is critical to increasing health while decreasing weight.
Some of their eat-healthy tips including filling half of the food plate with fruits and veggies, keeping proteins lean, and paying attention to the sodium and sugar levels in consumed foods.
4. Encourage physical activity
Another way to help patients achieve and maintain a healthy weight is to encourage physical activity. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 2.5 hours of moderate-level physical activity per week or 1 hour and 15 minutes if the exercise is vigorous in intensity.
Additionally, the AHA stresses that these exercise sessions don’t have to be lengthy to provide benefits. Increasing activity for in 10 to 15 minute increments works too.
5. Be a positive role model.
Back in 2013, The New York Times shared a study which found that “overweight doctors are seen as less credible than ‘normal weight’ doctors, and patients are less likely to follow their medical advice…”
Thus, if you want your patients to take you seriously and follow your well-intentioned guidance about how to lose or maintain a healthy weight, you need to model those same behaviors. Let your positive actions toward living a healthy life inspire others to do the same.