Common Misperceptions About Obesity in All Age Groups
Because weight is such a critical health issue, Wake Forest Baptist Health offers special programs serving every age range. Experts from those fields each share three key issues that they encounter.
Joseph Skelton, MD, director of the Brenner FIT program serving children who are overweight and their families. The program, one of the first in the nation of its kind, recently celebrated its fifth year.
- The majority of kids who have a problem with weight before puberty will continue to have problems after puberty.
- Although much attention is focused on poor children in urban areas, families living in rural areas often have trouble accessing fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Structured sports can contribute to problems. A Wake Forest Baptist study showed that on average, children in Little League had three meals a week interrupted by sports, something that often results in consumption by children and parents of unhealthy snacks before or during games and fast food after.
Adolfo "Fuzz" Fernandez, MD, medical director of the Bariatric Surgery Program for adults who choose to have weight loss surgery.
- It is not easy to lose weight, and overweight people should not be stigmatized as being lazy.
- Most meal portions are way too large, especially fast food restaurants, many of which are more than 1,000 calories. "A meal should not be 1,000 calories.''
- In order to fix problems on a large scale, government will have to consider cutting subsidies to big companies that allow them to offer bad food at inexpensive prices. Food that is unhealthier might need to become more expensive.
Barbara Nicklas, PhD, professor of gerontology and geriatric medicine, J. Paul Sticht Center on Aging and Rehabilitation
- Older people face different challenges when trying to lose weight, such as a lower metabolism, lifelong eating habits and chronic diseases that may limit physical activity.
- People who are overweight and obese when older are more at risk for chronic conditions, such as arthritis and dementia. This provides a different motivation for older people to maintain a healthy weight.
- Many medications taken by older people are "weight-gain promoting.'' Physicians should make sure their patients are aware of that and help them learn what they can do to become more mindful of their calorie intake and their lower resting metabolism.