Dr. Gary Foster is a professor of medicine and public health at Temple University. In this short audio interview, he shares current issues with obesity and practical solutions to how we, as a nation, can tackle the obesity pandemic.
(source: The Obesity Society)
By: Ali Al-Rajhi
My notes from the interview
Is obesity more of lifestyle or medical problem?
Dr. Foster that obesity is more of a medical problem: but what is the source?
- Look at biological and environmental factors…genes haven’t changed much, but people’s environment has changed significantly.
Black Females have the highest rate…we don’t know why but Dr. Foster’s guess is that it may be linked to the environmental they live in, cultural lifestyle, and their socio-economic status.
What can be done to tackle the issue of obesity? Overall message is to “eat less and move more,” and current interventions are focusing on the following approaches:
- Level 1: Behavioral modification; Level 2: pharmaco-therapy; Level 3: Bariatric Surgery
- People must think through the whole process differently – instead of working on the “reinforcement” side, work more on the “antecedent” side (e.g., what are the early triggers that make one overeat or stay sedentary?).
- Think of caloric intake as you do when balancing your finances: Understand how much energy goes into body and how much is burned (energy in and energy out).
- Change your relationship with food and don’t focus on losing pounds (e.g. don’t diet, just eat healthier)
- Change kids preferences at an early age…even pre-uteri as research has shown (e.g., talk to mom about what she eats).
What about diet plans? Generally not effective, but every diet works to some extent if it gets you to eat healthier or eat less then what you did before.
Diabetes is the most costly from a health care point-a-view and closely tied to obesity…both a medical and economic problem
To influence children to eat healthier just change environment at home with healthier selections and don’t point fingers as teens might resist…show by action and not words. Same can be said about school environment (e.g., change what is offered in the cafeteria and vending machines)
What about folks that are biological pre-deposed to be overweight?
- These people might make changes but will quit because they feel defeated if they don’t see changes.
- The solution: Think of it as an endless life-long marathon and just make small changes in your diet (e.g., think of ways to eliminate unhealthy calories like replacing whole milk with fat-free milk).
Where can the public get good information?
- The NIH has practical outlines and patient handouts that are ethnically diverse. Just type in “obesity” into the search.