According to the New England Journal of Medicine, one out of every two Americans will be obese, and nearly one in four will be severely obese by the next decade. Obesity is defined as having a weight that is higher than what is considered healthy for a certain height. Body Mass Index (BMI) is used as a screening tool to determine an individual’s health risk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define obesity categories as underweight or normal weight (BMI [the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters], <25), overweight (25 to <30), moderate obesity (30 to <35), and severe obesity (≥35).
Evidence suggests that patients are more likely to lose weight when advised by their primary care physician. However, most clinically obese patients do not receive weight-loss advisement in primary care. New York Health identified these barriers with Internist, Pollytia I. Panagiotou, MD who works alongside family practice physician, Michael J. DiGiovanna D.O., CPI to help combat the ever-increasing obesity epidemic. Her qualifications and training focused on preventive and weight-related issues is an important strategy for improving the care of patients with obesity.
The projected rise in obesity is associated with higher mortalities, morbidities, and healthcare costs. Obesity is more than a sedentary lifestyle and a high-calorie diet. Obesity is linked to so many chronic illnesses, from diabetes to heart disease to cancer. By stopping the issue at the source, through weight loss, proper health screenings, and education on living one’s healthiest life, Dr. Panagiotou aims to empower her patients and help them avoid so many deadly conditions. The goal is to not only reduce a person’s body weight but to also address a wide range of comorbidities such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, and cancer.
Better nutrition and consistent physical movement can have a significant impact on a patient’s health. Small bouts of 20-minute activity per day add up over time and even a 5% reduction in body weight is beneficial. Reducing excess body weight helps to alleviate strain on joints and ligaments, making it easier for people to move more and further advance weight loss gains leading to an increased quality of life.
Dr. Panagiotou discusses in-depth lifestyle modifications with patients, including how to alter their diet and different ways to incorporate exercise into their routines. In some cases, patients need additional support and pharmacological intervention. When a patient is unable to lose weight with diet, weight loss medications can be prescribed.
What can I expect at my first visit?
Dietary patterns questionnaire using Rapid Eating and Activity Assessment
Health risks to physical activity using the physical activity readiness questionnaire
The current level of physical activity, including the amount of sedentary time
If the patient is a candidate for pharmacotherapy or surgery
Identify the caloric deficit necessary for weight loss
Provide information on various types of diets (i.e., the low glycemic index diet for patients with type 2 diabetes, the DASH diet for patients with hypertension)
Recommendations on food variety, portion sizes, and limiting the intake of foods and beverages high in calories, fat, sugar, or sodium
How/Why to effectively read food labels
Education on healthy dining options
Help maintain patient motivation and success with realistic and achievable small goals
Understand that a weight loss of 5%–10% can have major health benefits
Overcome identified barriers and provide self-help materials
Educate patients on weight-maintenance skills
Review the effectiveness of food and physical activity journals
Help patients identify strategies, such as wearing a pedometer for record-keeping and working out with a friend
Follow-up with patients for behavior maintenance