What is the future for eliminating the problem of obesity?
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Host: What is the future for eliminating the problem of excess weight and obesity? Dr. William McCarthy: The first issue is going to be education. We need to start educating Physicians. Many Physicians don't even use what we call a BMI or Body Mass Index. We are so used to seeing people who are overweight; we may not even recognize it without seeing that number in front of us. So, that needs to be calculated. We need to start making sure that every doctor and every health care provider keeps a body mass index on every one of their patients. With children, many people don't even keep track of the BMI for age. Again, once we see so many overweight children and obese children, we forget that this child is at risk or this child is obese. So, we need to start recognizing the problem for what it is. Next, we need to start educating. We need to start educating the educators in our school of the problem of obesity. We need to start changing the way food is presented to children, especially snack foods, fast foods in school. We need to increase physical activity, we need to start making daily physical activity a part of not just children's lives, but adult lives. The other part, we need to educate parents. We train children from a very age that food is a reward for anything that we do, food is how we celebrate holidays, food is the gift that you give one another, food is a way that we show love for our parents by finishing our plate. So, we need to separate our lives from this dependence upon food and find other methods. We need to start looking at serving sizes. I am not asking, I don't feel we need to legislate this, but we just need to start training ourselves that yes we can be full and enjoy our food. 30 or 40 years ago, we were satisfied with less food and there is no reason it can't be done in the future, but we have to educate ourselves. Next, we have to look at medications and other treatments of obesity and overweight. There are a number of medications that are being studied. There are medications that can interfere with some of the metabolic problems that can work on the Central Nervous System to help an appetite that can help reduce absorption of nutrients. They are actually immunizations or vaccines that can be given that may interfere with some of the factors that cause weight gain. So, as we go along, we're going to find more and more types of therapy for weight problems. As we've gone along, we are finding that surgery has greatly reduced its number of complications. We are finding less invasive surgery, surgeries are being performed much quicker with much less risk of complications. We are having surgeons that are much more experienced at performing these surgeries. So, what needs to be done, number one, we need to look at root causes of obesity and start to change our attitudes toward food and exercise. We need to change our lifestyles; we can't be running around 18 or 24 hours a day and never taking time out to get our heart rate up a little bit. Secondly, we need to start finding therapies besides just to treat the consequences of obesity or overweight. We need to start aiming our therapy at the weight problem itself and finding different ways. We're going to start finding ways that genetics is going to play a role in weight loss. So, there's a lot on the horizon and we are just starting to scratch it. Back in the 1990s, there was very little research that was performed in the field of obesity and overweight. I was just at a conference in New Orleans and just day after day, there were just one presentation after another on the epidemiology, on the consequences, on the treatment of obesity. So, we're just really scratching the surface and we will find a way to treat obesity and prevent these terrible complications that we're seeing.
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