Doctors say obesity weighs in as bigger problem than people think

POSTED: 03:56 PM MST Jan 06, 2014    UPDATED: 06:46 PM MST Jan 06, 2014 
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POCATELLO, Idaho -

Obesity rates are on the decline, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, making Idaho now the 18th healthiest state when it comes to obesity. The department posted these results done by the United Health Foundation: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/ID.

But doctors are saying obesity is still a pandemic they see getting worse.

Director of the Portneuf Medical Center's Bariatric Services Dr. Alian Garay said, while the number of local patients considered to be obese is not increasing, that number is not decreasing either. In fact, he said doctors are seeing a jump in the number of patients who place in the highest obesity categories such as: morbidly obese, super morbidly obese, super-super morbidly obese, etc.

"Obesity will, unless somehow stopped, overtake all other diseases in the cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States," Garay said. "The number of people dying from these problems will eventually overtake cancer and everything else."

Those considered morbidly obese have a body mass index in the 50s, which is roughly 100 lbs overweight. Now, he said patients are coming to him with a BMI of 70, 80, or even 90.

Garay believes the problem starts with the increase the state is seeing in childhood obesity, and feels we have not taken this issue seriously enough to take preventative action. 

One way this epidemic can be stopped, is through better educating parents. He also said looking into psychological causes behind each patient's case is key to maintaining a weight-loss lifestyle in the long run.

Garay also suggested, although it can be intricate, the need to develop a preventative medicine program in Idaho. He believes preventing the obesity problem from getting worse will save the state money spent on health care.

"We need to develop a way to curve childhood obesity, to curve adult obesity, and to decrease the amount of money we are spending on obesity because obesity literally causes problems with every single organ system in the body," Garay said.

Here is a link to the Department of Health and Welfare website: http://healthandwelfare.idaho.gov/Home/tabid/55/Default.aspx

You can find a link to a BMI calculator here: http://1.usa.gov/1dSzT3p

For more information on what you can do if dealing with obesity, you can call the Portneuf Weight Management Institute at 239-2620.