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Times of the Islands Magazine

Weight, Weight… Don’t Tell Me: Weight Loss Can Be a Matter of Life or Death

Jul 14, 2021 03:21PM ● By KATHY MONTGOMERY

This is not a lecture or judgment. It is just the facts. 

Obesity worldwide has reached epidemic levels. More than 70 percent of adults ages 20 and over are overweight or obese.  

About a third of overweight Americans, however, think they are at a healthy weight for their height, according to a poll by Harris Interactive, a market research firm. Approximately 70 percent of obese Americans would place themselves in the less medically threatening category of “overweight,” as do nearly 40 percent of morbidly obese respondents.  

The numbers do not lie. Obesity is determined by body mass index (BMI), a formula that compares weight with height, gender and age. (See A BMI of 25-30 is considered overweight, and a BMI above 30 is obese. 

A study from the Rand Corporation shows that obesity has higher links to chronic illnesses than living in poverty. Obesity is a leading cause of diabetes and heart disease, and 230 diseases and disorders are linked to too much weight. 

With the U.S. weight-loss market worth a record $72 billion, it is obvious that people are interested in changing their lives. 

“There is a whole industry behind trying to convince people they can lose weight quickly,” says Dr. Rishi Ramlogan, a weight-loss surgeon with Surgical Healing Arts Center, which specializes in bariatric surgery and comprehensive weight management in Southwest Florida. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We are buying crazy supplements online and putting stuff into our body that aren’t healthy. We are even doing exercises that can cause harm to ourselves.” 

Ramlogan says there are medical and nonmedical reasons people want to lose weight through surgery. The most common medical issues for patients are high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, obstructive sleep apnea, fatty liver, depression and high cholesterol. The nonmedical reasons often include inability to participate in the activities of daily life, such as tying your shoes, taking care of children, being able to fit in amusement park rides and having to ask for a seatbelt extender on airplanes. 

Lori Casey was 265 pounds at her heaviest, before she stopped weighing herself because she didn’t want to know if she was still gaining. She had a lot of medical problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, congenital kidney disease and edema.  

After surgery at Surgical Healing Arts more than 10 years ago, Casey lost 160 pounds. She is no longer on medication for blood pressure or cholesterol, her kidneys function better, and her heart issues have resolved. “I am able to do so much more, without being out of breath, like dancing,” she says. “Before I had social anxiety and didn’t want to go out and do things.” 

Still, weight loss does not need to be dramatic to improve health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, even a modest weight loss of 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight is likely to produce health benefits, such as improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugars. 

Ramlogan offers these tips for losing weight: 

  • The only way to lose weight and keep it off is to make lifestyle changes that eventually become habits. Fad diets may work for a brief time but are not sustainable. 

  • Trust only a credible medical professional for health information.  

  • Food choices must be intentional and require planning. 

  • Schedule exercise into the week as if it were an appointment or work, so that it has the same level of importance. 

  • To get enough sleep, consider the start of your day when you go to sleep. If you do not get enough sleep, the next day’s food and exercise plans will be a struggle. 

“With food, exercise and sleep, we have choices,” Ramlogan says. “To maintain a healthy weight, we need to be consistent and disciplined, forming habits and routines. It’s important to health, how long we will live and the overall feeling of well-being.” 


Kathy Montgomery has been writing about Southwest Florida and the important issues facing the community for more than 30 years.