From sleep apnea to diabetes, those extra pounds may be doing you more harm than you realize.

Image by Mike Ramm

It can be incredibly hard to find the time to eat right and exercise, which is why weight management remains a big issue in this region and around the country.

“In any given day, if I’m seeing 25 patients, 50-60 percent of them are overweight or obese,” says Raenell Williams, a family doctor with Sentara Family & Internal Medicine Physicians.

But keeping excess weight off is critical, because those extra pounds can be tied to a number of other medical conditions from sleep apnea to diabetes. An estimated 29 percent of adults in Virginia were reported to be obese in 2016, according to data collected by the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Williams says that patients struggling with their weight may also report problems with joint pain, fatigue and shortness of breath in everyday activities, such as going up the stairs.

She adds that when weight becomes an issue, she prefers to help patients eat healthier and stay more active. Medication or even surgery tends to be reserved for cases where people are struggling with morbid obesity or are having serious difficulty shedding fat.
Her advice focuses on the incremental, rather than demanding too much all at once.

“If you’re a mom on-the-go with kids who doesn’t necessarily like to cook, and you do eat a lot of fast food, I say, ‘OK, let’s work with the fast food menu,’” Williams adds. “Shoot for something that’s lower calorie—get a salad or eat a sandwich, but don’t get the fries.”
The same holds for exercise. “There are DVDs you can put in the DVD player at home, or stand up during commercials and do jumping jacks for each TV break,” she says. “Just get some more movement in throughout the day.”

(Top Doctors 2018February 2018)