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A Weighty Problem

The ValleyCare Weight Loss Center has resources to help you get back on track with your weight, including the new Medical Weight Loss Program.

America is spinning out of control when it comes to weight. With each subsequent generation heavier than the past, a lot of factors are at work here. New studies from the American Society of Bariatric Physicians indicate that genetics, hormones, medications, unfavorable environmental factors and nutritional imbalances, along with lifestyle and cultural traditions, to name a few, all seem to play a role in the obesity epidemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
  • More than 78 million adults and 12 million children in the U.S. are considered obese, and nearly one-quarter of Californians are in this category.
  • Obesity is one of the greatest health and economic threats facing the U.S. today. The annual medical cost of obesity in America is estimated to be nearly $150 billion.

It is due to this threat and the new studies that the American Medical Association (AMA), in its June 2013 annual meeting, voted to declare obesity as a medical condition/disease requiring treatment.

Obesity Defined

CDC defines obesity and overweight as a body mass index (BMI) in ranges above what is considered healthy:
  • Healthy—BMI of 18.5 to 24.9
  • Overweight—BMI of 25 to 29.9
  • Obese—BMI of 30 to 39.9
  • Morbidly obese—BMI of 40 and above (or BMI of 35 to 39.9 with comorbidities)

You can check your BMI online at

Health Risks of Obesity

Many health issues are associated with obesity and being overweight. In addition to the increased risk of premature death, obese or overweight individuals also have an increased risk of developing the following obesity-related conditions: coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancers (including breast, endometrial and colon), high blood pressure, stroke, dyslipidemia (elevated total cholesterol or triglycerides), liver and gallbladder disease, sleep apnea and respiratory problems, osteoarthritis and gynecology issues (abnormal menses, infertility).

Good News

According to Mary Estakhri, MD, medical director of the ValleyCare Weight Loss Center, the good news is that obesity and being overweight can be treated. Evidence shows that high-intensity counseling, along with behavioral interventions that are aimed at skill development, motivation and support strategies, produce modest, yet sustained, weight loss in adults. Further evidence shows that health benefits improve even with modest weight loss that is sustained.

More good news is that as of January 1, 2014, most insurers will cover screening and counseling for obesity that is provided by a primary care physician or nurse practitioner.

“The clear message is that access to appropriate care for this complex, chronic disease is medically necessary, and insurance policies should no longer specifically exclude obesity treatment,” Dr. Estakhri says. “The ripple effect should also include training for medical students in what obesity is and how it should be best treated. It also communicates to obese individuals that this is not a problem of personal responsibility, but rather a chronic disease, no different from type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. As a complex disease, impacting both physical and mental health, effective obesity care requires the coordinated efforts of multiple health care providers.”

ValleyCare’s Answer—New Program

As a result of the findings, obesity statistics and the recent designation by the AMA, ValleyCare’s Weight Loss Center has introduced the Medical Weight Loss Program, which includes the following:
  • Medical evaluation and clinical management
  • New dietary approach to weight loss
  • Behavior modification
  • Classes and support groups
  • Consideration for weight loss medication
  • Exercise guidance

The program is staffed by physicians, a nurse practitioner, registered dietitians and psychologists. They can help you lose the weight, improve your health and also help you achieve an excellent quality of life.

Getting Started

If you are considering weight loss treatment, start by coming to our free information seminar. At this seminar, you will have an opportunity to learn more about medical weight loss, as well as surgical options.

ValleyCare Weight Loss Center is located at 5725 W. Las Positas Blvd, Suite 220, Pleasanton. For more information, please call us at 800-577-5030.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Society of Bariatric Physicians
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