By Michael Hill
Pat Brigley use to be more than 100 pounds over weight and was among the growing number of morbidly obese adults in America.
“I had been on multiple diets, multiple times. Lost the weight and gained back more,” Brigley said.
Brigley feared her future and opted for lap band surgery at Englewood Hospital where she also directs the Occupational Health Department.
“I have a family history that includes diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease and I knew that if I didn’t do something about this soon, I was going to end up with those diagnoses myself,” she said.
Dr. Jeffrey Strain, of Englewood Hospital’s Bariatric Surgery Center, echoes a new Centers for Disease Control survey. It finds nearly 38 percent of adult Americans are obese; that’s up from 35 percent in 2011 to 2012 and up from 32 percent in 2003 to 2004. Doctors blame a lack of exercise and consuming too much sugar, salt and fatty foods.
Doctor Strain says we’re eating ourselves to death and that America eats hedonistically, resulting in obesity leading to high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, cancer and life spans shortened by 10 years.
“It’s very similar to certain other problems we have. People realize smoking is going to lessen their life and it’s difficult for them to do something about it,” he said. “The drive to eat is only second to the drive to breathe in the human being, and trying to curb that drive is very, very difficult.”
The surgeon says America’s nutritional education needs a reboot.
“I think if people were learning what they were eating, similar to the campaigns against smoking, we would be more careful about what we put in our mouths,” said Strain.
Beth Tansey-Peller is giving a tour of Englewood Hospital’s new Graf Center for Integrative Medicine. She coaches clients who set goals such as weigh loss, and need some encouragement to reach them.
“People don’t make conscious decisions about what they’re eating. We’re busy. We have a lot going on. It’s hard to plan ahead and that’s where as a wellness coach, I can come in and help some strategize. Create a vision for who they want to be, and then the smart goals to help them implement that plan,” she said.
Nearly eight years after surgery and eating smaller portions, Pat Brigley says she feels great and can ski, walk the stairs and live again. Her advice: exercise and it’s about portions.
The federal government has a goal of America lowering its obesity to 30.5 percent by 2020. Doctors say while it seems almost impossible at this point, it is doable if this new survey serves as a wake up call Americans will heeded.