Parkland Health & Hospital System - Dallas County Hospital District

01/08/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 01/08/2020 10:42

Ten reasons (beyond your looks) to maintain a healthy weight

Posted: 1/8/2020

Parkland providers say it's about saving, savoring your life

Looking your best is an ego-booster - and a great reason to shed those extra pounds you've been packing around. But physicians at Parkland Health & Hospital System say there are even more important reasons to maintain a healthy weight that have nothing to do with your appearance.

'The health impacts of obesity are hard to overestimate,' said Luigi Meneghini, MD, endocrinologist and Executive Director of the Global Diabetes Program at Parkland and Professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center. 'It adversely affects everything in our bodies, head to toe. Excess fat, particularly belly fat, is a risk factor for chronic diseases like diabetes and metabolic syndrome that can significantly decrease the quality and the length of your life.'

'Obesity and overweight are linked to increased risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke,' said Amit Khera, MD, Parkland cardiologist and Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. 'Being overweight is also linked to hypertension and an enlarged left ventricle, increasing the risk for heart failure. If you want to reduce your risk of heart problems, maintaining a healthy weight is crucial.'

'Often, obesity and depression go hand-in-hand,' said Rebecca Corona, PhD, lead psychologist at Parkland. 'Studies have shown that 43% of adults with depression were obese, and adults with depression are more likely to be obese than adults without depression.'

In 2019 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report showing that U.S. obesity rates had reached historic highs, with one in three Americans of all ages - more than 100 million people - having obesity. Calling it a national crisis, the CDC data showed that the incidence of obesity in the U.S. has increased by 70% over the last 30 years for adults and by a whopping 85% for children.

National Healthy Weight Month, observed every January, is a campaign to help Americans develop new, healthy habits that will last a lifetime.

Here are some of the health benefits of maintaining a healthy weight:

1. Reduces risk of heart disease and stroke
2. Reduces risk of diabetes
3. Reduces risk of cancer
4. Reduces risk of gallbladder disease, gallstones and gout
5. Improves sleep and allows your lungs to expand fully and breathe deeply
6. Reduces risk of sleep apnea
7. Increases motivation to exercise and engage in physical activities
8. Improves mood and emotional health, decreases stress-related hormones
9. Boosts energy, improves mobility
10. Protects against age-related diseases, including dementia, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis

But what is a 'healthy weight' for you?

'It's not just a number on the scale or clothing size,' said Sharon Cox, a registered dietitian who leads diabetes education classes at Parkland's Bluitt-Flowers Health Center. 'One measure of a healthy weight is Body Mass Index (BMI) which compares your height to your weight. Guidelines recommend that adults maintain a BMI between 18 and 25. BMI over 25 indicates overweight, while over 30 indicates obesity.'

What it's not about, Cox emphasized, is dieting. 'Fad diets usually fail because they lead to yo-yo weight loss and regaining weight. Instead, focus on creating healthy meals with whole grains, beans, peas, lentils, lean protein, low-fat dairy products and a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.'

Another key to maintaining healthy weight is managing your portions, Cox noted. 'Taking time to measure your food after cooking is one of the little things you can do that will help you reach and maintain your healthy weight.'

Here's what Parkland experts say you can do now to ensure a healthier future:
• Stay at a healthy weight - if necessary, lose 5 to 7% of your body weight
• Eat well - learn to make healthier choices
• Be active - do some type of moderate physical activity 150 minutes or more per week

'By making these simple lifestyle changes, millions of people can live longer and healthier lives, avoiding the very serious health complications of obesity that can include certain cancers, heart disease and diabetes,' Dr. Meneghini concluded.

For more information about services at Parkland, visit

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