If you gained weight during the Covid-19 pandemic, you are not alone.
A year in the pandemic, and American Psychological Association survey showed that 45% of women report unwanted weight gain with an average weight gain of 22 pounds.
Weight gain can make us feel insecure about how we look or feel uncomfortable in pants that we previously wore lightly. And there is no shortage of shame or stigma when it comes to our weight.
Still, carrying extra weight can affect overall health and wellbeing.
Recognized in 2013 by the American Medical Association Obesity as a disease, and a common one at that. Total, 42% of adults in the United States have obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As with many chronic diseases, there are safe and effective medical treatments for obesity, including five drugs for weight loss Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Obesity drugs typically work in the brain to suppress appetite, increase satiety, and decrease cravings so people think less about food and feel happier with smaller servings, so Dr. Florencia Halperin, a Harvard trained and board certified specialist in obesity.
Because these drugs target the underlying biological factors that contribute to obesity, they can be groundbreaking, according to Halperin.
“I have treated thousands of patients who had struggled for years or decades to try every diet and fitness plan – anything imaginable – with no sustainable results,” she said, “and when they take a drug that works for them , they feel such a big difference. “
Medications should be part of an overall plan, she says, in conjunction with physical activity and a focus on optimizing diet for nutrition.
Halperin is one of a growing number of doctors specializing in the treatment of obesity. This year, more than 1,100 doctors did the American Board of Obesity Medicine Examination, which brings the total number of obesity medicine specialists to more than 5,200.
For many women, medically supervised weight loss treatment may seem out of reach.
Health insurance companies often set a high bar for patients to access weight loss medication. Even with medication covered, patients usually have to go through difficult pre-approval loops.
And that only for women with health insurance; 11% of non-older adult women were uninsured and approximately in 2019 one third of adults are considered to be underinsured due to gaps in coverage or sky-high expenses.
“Obesity is a stigmatized disease. And I see the lack of access to these drugs as a direct result of it,” said Halperin. “We strive to practice evidence-based medicine and it is so frustrating when the scientific evidence that these drugs are effective is solid. [but] Insurance can simply refuse access. “
According to the fashions
When women do not have access to or know nothing about medically-based weight loss treatments, many unproven methods and fad diets turn to.
According to a. Americans spend about $ 2 billion annually on weight loss supplements Study 2017 it also showed that more than one in five female-headed households bought weight loss supplements. Older studies suggest that women and people of color are more likely to use unapproved dietary supplements for weight loss.
Systematic evaluations offer little evidence that dietary supplements work for weight loss. Worse, some supplements actually do harm. According to the FDA, dietary supplements are used for weight loss three times more likely than vitamins cause serious medical damage.
Unregulated food supplements can interfere with heart rhythm, sleep and liver function, among other things.
“The list of damages is long,” said Halperin. “I have looked after many hospital patients myself who have been harmed by over-the-counter weight loss supplements that promised to melt away the fat and other false claims.”
Halperin advises people to avoid any product that is not FDA cleared and prescribed by a qualified healthcare provider.
the Federal Trade Commission crackdowns on dietary supplement manufacturers and suppliers who make false claims, but there are too many bad players to get rid of them all, said Allison Ivie, vice president at Center Road Solutions and policy advisor for HealthyWomen.
“The dietary supplement industry is such an extensive line of products that it’s just ‘Whack-a-Mole’,” said Ivie.
Representation of interests in action
The FDA is not authorized to regulate dietary supplements For safety and efficacy reasons, women who choose unregulated weight loss products should be wary of what is available on the internet.
Ivie encourages women considering dietary supplements to use the tools available to be as informed as possible. For example, Operational safety supplement provides screening tools to identify dangerous warning signs and products to avoid.
the Obesity Action Coalition provides educational resources and helps find qualified health care providers. She also advocates better access to safe treatments and research to identify safe and effective new treatments.
And HealthyWomen partnered with the Black Women’s Health Imperative to get it started Get your wellbeing back, a campaign to raise awareness of obesity as a bias-free health crisis and to ensure women have access to science-based weight management treatment.
A bill before Congress could significantly improve access to obesity treatment. the Obesity Treatment and Reduction Act (TROA) of 2019 would require Medicare to cover obesity screening and treatment, including FDA-approved weight management and care drugs from a number of health care providers such as nutritionists and psychologists.
“I believe that efforts to gain wider acceptance that obesity is a chronic disease and treatable – through lifestyle strategies, along with medication (and also surgery, another very good treatment option) – will ultimately help us take those drugs, any of them Pharmacy benefits from formulas, “said Halperin.
Until then, Ivie encourages women celebrate their bodies while taking steps to take care of their health.
This resource was created with the assistance of Novo Nordisk.
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