When I evaluate patients medically, before I offer up potential solutions that involve medications, I try to encompass all of the other risks the patient presents that may influence the decision to prescribe a medication(s). As an example, if a person has a slightly high cholesterol level, but does not have other “cardiac risk factors”, such as hypertension, history of smoking, diabetes, obesity, age over 60 or family history of heart disease, I would lean more towards recommending a non-medicine approach to getting that cholesterol level lower. On the contrary, if a patient with high cholesterol tells me that almost every family member had stent or coronary artery bypass surgery before the age of 70, I will be very quick to write an RX for Lipitor or another statin.
Turning to the weight control arena: We all have many reasons why we want to control weight and several of these reasons are most certainly health-related issues. We all know that being overweight/obese can lead to:
- Heart disease
- Cancer (pancreas, stomach, breast, ovarian, colon, uterine)
- Chronic pain
- Sleep apnea
- Low libido
- (add a number of more bullet points)
So, the question is: How concerned should YOU be about poor weight control causing any/many of the above serious health conditions? The answer is found by focusing on what your other risk factors are for the above conditions. As an example, if a person has pretty much every family member developing diabetes AND that person is overweight/obese, there is a very high likelihood that if the weight is not lost, diabetes is almost a definite in the future. Another example: If a woman has a family history of breast cancer, although controlling weight is not a sure thing to prevent the development, it would be a VERY good idea to get that weight under control.
We all should be “serious” about our weight control efforts, but for some, the success vs. failure could mean the difference between serious illness/death vs. extended, healthy life. Self-evaluate your own “risk profile” and use this as a motivation to stay steadfast and focused on your weight control journey.