NOTE: The following is an excerpt from TeleVox’s Healthy World report, “The Obesity Epidemic: Unhealthy Habits Result in a Growing Problem for Americans”, which discusses both the patient and provider views on the fastest-growing health problem in America. Download it HERE!
Women are always putting other people, such as their family and friends, ahead of themselves. But obesity is just as prevalent in women as it is in men. Finding a solution that will empower women to manage their own weight is a concern among doctors and healthcare providers. With the AMA recently deeming obesity as a disease, what will help women move past obesity? Better patient engagement that uses technology to communicate with women between office visits about the importance of healthy lifestyle choices is a key to giving women the encouragement they need to make managing their own health a priority.
The Obesity Epidemic: Unhealthy Habits Result in a Growing Problem for Americans reports that nearly two-thirds of women (62 percent) said that obesity in adults is a significant problem in America. And, according to the Center for Disease Control, 36.2 percent of women are obese, contributing to a total obese population of close to 78 million adults. But fighting obesity involves more than just a number on a scale. It requires a certain mindset and long-term behavioral changes. When women fail to take time to get themselves on the right path, they won’t be able to effectively ensure their family members are also making healthy lifestyle choices.
Linking Obesity to Other Conditions
Additionally, obesity can be linked to many health conditions that can affect women’s lives. According to the CDC, more than 30 conditions—ranging from arthritis and cardiovascular diseases to cancer, heart disease, and stroke—are directly related to obesity. And obesity becomes more prevalent as women age, as 42.3 percent of women 60 and older are obese, while 31.9 percent of women 20-39 are obese. Women across the nation see these stats reflected when they look in the mirror daily. According to The Obesity Epidemic, 81 percent of women reported they could benefit from losing weight right now.
But what steps can women across the country take to improve their weight management? With more than three-fourths of women currently concerned about their weight, communication with healthcare professionals can have an impact on curbing obesity rates. The good news is that many women do communicate with their doctor, as nearly 10 percent more women than men report discussing weight management with their doctor. Forty-three percent of women have already talked with their doctors about weight management, and 56 percent said they would be interested in and/or happy to receive communications from their doctor with additional tips on how to manage their weight. Additionally, nearly a fourth of American women (23 percent) said that communication from their doctor between office visits, such as emails, text messages, or voicemails, would help them better manage their overall health.
And while at one point many Americans’ thoughts about the causes of obesity gravitated toward genetics, those feelings have shifted to diet and exercise. Currently, more women than men think it is what we eat and how active we are that has the greatest impact on our health. In fact, according to The Obesity Epidemic, a vast majority of women (92 percent) believe that diet and exercise, and not genetics, are the biggest causes of obesity.
Moving From Knowledge to Action
The bad news is that many women are not taking action based on their knowledge of what causes obesity. Unfortunately, 53 percent of women reported that they are not getting enough exercise or physical activity, and that it is negatively impacting their health. It isn’t surprising then that 57 percent of women currently describe their weight as overweight or obese. However, consuming a healthy diet and making time for regular exercise is an important first step that women can take to put themselves first and focus on their own health. If women don’t put an emphasis on making healthy choices, obesity will be a natural consequence. Furthermore, by the choices they make, women have the power to influence the choices of their families and the health of America’s future. It starts with putting a balanced meal on the table, being active with their kids and talking about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
As reported in The Obesity Epidemic, the average American has attempted to diet or lose weight nine times, yet just 31 percent of women reported being completely successful with the diet or attempt to lose weight. But women need to be more successful with weight management, as 24 percent said they have experienced obesity, and 55 percent report they could do a better job of managing their weight. Women need to take time to ensure they are doing what is best for their health, and the health of their family, by consulting doctors and healthcare providers and interacting with them more often than just once a year. By sending out text messages or emails or making a phone call regularly between office visits, doctors can also help women by empowering them with the information, support and encouragement they need to fight obesity.
It is time for women to take action! It starts with taking the necessary steps of interacting with healthcare providers on a more regular basis. Additionally, formulating lifestyle plans that include healthier eating and regular exercise will lower obesity rates. Sticking with the plan and keeping open the lines of communication will help many American women succeed at getting their weight under control.