It is no secret that obesity has become one of the world’s greatest health concerns in the 21st century. Canada is no exception - with one in four adults and one in ten children identified as obese. With the Canadian Medical Association’s recent declaration that obesity is a chronic disease, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure we are using the best measures to identify and address this growing health concern. Physicians and other care providers at The Medical Station are dedicated to developing clinic programs and treatment plans to combat overweight & obesity in our patients in North York.
Not All Fat is Equal
Your weight is an important indicator of health status and risk for future health complications – but not all fat is equal. There is growing scientific evidence pointing to the importance of the location of fat cells in your body
. Abdominal, or visceral, fat is particularly dangerous. Dr. Raj Padwal, a physician at the University of Alberta explains, "the worst fat is in the midsection. It's in the intra-abdominal cavity, in the organs. Fat infiltrating that area of the body is definitely the worst”. This is because these fat cells are more likely to infiltrate abdominal organs such as the pancreas and liver; this can then lead to inflammation, glucose intolerance, and increased risk of heart disease, type II diabetes, fatty liver, and end-stage liver failure. Research has found that those who may have a “healthy” BMI, but are centrally obese have the worst long-term survival rates.
Importance of Alternate Measures of Weight & Obesity
Although it still has utility at the population level, body mass index (BMI) should be used as one part of a more comprehensive assessment of weight, obesity, and health risk for individuals. Since it solely relies on an individual’s height and weight, BMI may underestimate or overestimate health risks in certain individuals, such as highly muscular adults. Recent research has confirmed this and advocated for the use of waist-to-hip ratio measurements (your waist at its narrowest divided by the measure of your hips at their widest). If the result is greater than .85 in women or greater than .90 in men, then The Medical Station recommends lifestyle changes improve health. There are many other measurements used to determine health risks from weight, such as waist circumference and body fat percent.
The Medical Station Weight Management Program
With the opening of our North York medical clinic in Spring 2016, The Medical Station will be offering weight management programming and diabetes education to serve patients from across the GTA. These clinic programs will be evidence-based, comprehensive, and physician led addressing the four pillars of effective weight management – medicine, nutrition, exercise, and psychosocial support. Our clinic is aware of the limitations of the BMI measurement and will be monitoring a number of health and weight measurements throughout the client’s experience. This will ensure our medical and clinic team is getting a comprehensive understanding of each client’s health status throughout. Stay tuned for more information on The Medical Station’s weight management and diabetes education programs.
Physicians and other medical care providers at The Medical Station are dedicated to offering services, support, and resources to those seeking to address overweight and obesity. Please contact our clinic for more information.