Obesity… What Do We Do?

I had an interesting patient recently who has worked in healthcare for nearly 30 years. She was very knowledgeable about the heart, vascular disease, and its causative factors. We discussed obesity in our country and even specifically here in California.

Coming from the South (Alabama and Georgia), I had definitely witnessed obesity! Year over year, Mississippi takes the cake (no pun intended ;). Alabama is usually in the top 5 and two other southern states. Indiana is the only Midwest state in the top 5. So what is going on here? Why are the heaviest patients there? Of course number one would be diet or cultural food differences. Many people cook their food in heavy oils, fry everything, and eat large portions. In turn, this obesity causes the highest proportion of vascular and cardiac disease, renal disease and failure, and diabetes. I saw this epidemic for years, working with patients from all walks of life and ages that presented with these life-threatening disease processes. Moving to California was quite different and a culture shock, when I first came here. Yes, we have fast-food restaurants just like in the rest of the country, but the focus on health is much more ever-present than where I lived in Alabama. Walking and biking instead of driving is encouraged, weight-loss clinics are popping up everywhere here, and whole-food diets are the norm. This isn’t to say we aren’t in hours of traffic sitting on our butt in the car, or we don’t have some ice cream or donuts every now and then. We do. But, what is the difference between these two areas of the US?

The patient I referred to earlier exclaimed to me, “What do we do?! Everyone is fat! And it’s killing them!” She was definitely frustrated and at a loss. We considered possible fixes for the obesity epidemic, legislative changes, etc. However, obesity is more endemic now that I think about it. It’s becoming the norm to see BMI above 30 in adult men, women, and even children. And what are the health consequences of this, you might ask? There are more than 60 diseases linked to obesity including: hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes, lung disease, and many more. My patient stated she felt the “system” is so fragile and she is unsure if it would ever be repaired enough to help millions of people dealing with this lifestyle related disease.

Unfortunately the risk of death is not enough to scare the public into submission. What are the keys to cure this madness? Is there a fix?

Interested in hearing your thoughts and recommendations!





I am a Board Certified Family Medicine Nurse Practitioner. I have over 18 years of experience in various modalities in nursing.

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Alyssa Johnston

I am a Board Certified Family Medicine Nurse Practitioner. I have over 18 years of experience in various modalities in nursing.