Posts Tagged ‘COVID-19’

Do It for the Health of It! You Need to Get to the Root of the Problem!

By Marie L. Veselsky RD, LD, CDE, BC-ADM

Metabolic syndrome is a health problem that is finally getting more attention. This is due to the COVID-19 pandemic putting the obesity epidemic once again into the spotlight.  Data reveals that obesity or metabolic syndrome (several risk factors in addition to obesity) is no longer a health threat just in the long run, but one that can have devastating effects right now. This should give us all a wake-up call that being significantly overweight is not a benign condition. Medications for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar cannot do it alone. You need to get to the root of the problem.  Do it for the health of it!

Over 40% of the United States population is considered obese. Not only does obesity or metabolic syndrome increase your risk of getting infected with COVID-19 but they may also increase your risk of greater complications from the virus. There are also concerns that obesity may interfere with the vaccine’s effectiveness.  New studies and information confirm health care providers’ suspicions that the COVID-19 virus takes advantage of a chronic disease that our current U.S. health care system is unable to get under control.  Researchers have found that being significantly overweight can also worsen other health conditions such as the flu and other respiratory conditions.

What is metabolic syndrome? Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors based on several well recognized signs including obesity, elevated triglycerides, reduced HDL cholesterol, raised blood pressure and elevated blood glucose. Typically, the root of the problem for metabolic syndrome starts with being significantly overweight. Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A body mass index (BMI) over 25 is considered overweight and over 30 is obese.

The good news is that weight loss does not have to happen overnight to be beneficial. As a licensed Registered Dietitian and a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), I like to tell my clients “one rock at a time.” I reinforce with them that if you are going in the right direction, no matter how slow, you will be successful. Just a 10% reduction in body weight can decrease expected lifetime medical costs from hypertension, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease.

For those that have struggled and not been successful in losing the weight there is good news!  Comprehensive medically monitored weight loss programs are out there!  Medically supervised weight loss programs can provide a safer, more accountable approach to help people lose the weight and improve weight related medical conditions. An initial appointment followed by monthly follow-ups with a licensed credentialed health care provider/prescriber that specializes in weight loss, as well as weekly weigh-ins and support groups with a Registered Dietitian, will help you achieve weight loss and stick with the program.

There are “kick start weight loss programs” that can help you get the fresh start you need, such as weight loss medications for the right candidate, meal replacement programs that reduce daily caloric intake and even supervised exercise programs. Medically supervised weight loss programs can also assess if you are an appropriate candidate for referral for gastric weight loss surgery.  We will help you meet the initial weight loss and diet education requirements needed, all as you are learning new behaviors for the future to help maintain your weight loss.  This includes education on the right weight maintenance meal plan for you such as the Mediterranean Diet or a healthy meal plan that is made up of more “real food,” such as fresh fruits and vegetables, less processed bready carbohydrates, more lean protein, and an individualized total daily carbohydrate number.

Getting to the root of the problem and getting the weight off is the best prevention for any weight related illness.  Do it for the health of it!

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Metabolic Syndrome Increases Risk for Disease Including Risk for Complications from COVID-19

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and other serious diseases. These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

Metabolic syndrome is caused by an imbalance or disturbance to overall metabolism, and typically the root cause of that imbalance is being significantly overweight for height or obesity. There is a direct link between a person’s weight or more precisely their percentage of body fat and the development of metabolic syndrome.

People with obesity are more likely than normal-weight people to have other diseases that are independent risk factors for severe COVID-19, including heart disease, lung disease and diabetes. A recent study from Tulane University of 287 hospitalized COVID-19 patients found that metabolic syndrome itself substantially increased the risk of complications from COVID-19.

So, do you have metabolic syndrome? Those who have metabolic syndrome have 3 out of 5 of the following criteria:

  1. Waist circumference greater than 35 inches for women and greater than 40 inches for men.
  2. Triglycerides greater than 150.
  3. HDL cholesterol less than 50 for women and less than 40 for men.
  4. Blood pressure greater than 130/85.
  5. Fasting blood sugar greater than 110.

At the very top of almost every health care provider’s medication algorithm or guidance sheet for preventative medication therapy is the statement “healthy eating, weight control, increased physical activity and education.”   This indicates that promoting and educating on healthy lifestyle changes should be included along with any medication they may prescribe.

So, what is the treatment for metabolic syndrome?   The treatment is weight loss.  Research data shows that many people will lower their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars when they lose weight, gradually increase their physical activity, and make healthier choices for food.  Going to a licensed registered dietitian that can accept your insurance as well as having a primary health care provider that promotes healthy lifestyle changes can get you on the right path. So, get started now! Most insurance companies cover preventative care!

Marie Veselsky, RD, LD, CDE, BC-ADM is the owner and coordinator of NH Integrated Health Care at 45 Washington Street, Conway, NH. Dustin Forrest APRN, CDE is the health care provider and specializes in diabetes., 603-662-0234.

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