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Your weight matters: Why you should talk to a medical professional

Published On: Jun 04 2013 02:57:19 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 20 2013 10:09:16 AM CDT
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Would you lose even that small amount of weight if you knew it might improve your health and reduce your risk of certain diseases?

Well, experts say it's true. And with an estimated 72 million people in the U.S. affected by obesity, and nearly one out of three affected by excess weight, a new campaign called "Your Weight Matters" aims to do something a bit novel -- without haranguing anyone -- when it comes to drawing attention to how vulnerable such individuals are to diseases like diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea.

"The point is to prompt a conversation about weight between patients and their healthcare providers," explains Joe Nadglowski, president and CEO of the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), which developed the campaign. "Right now, unfortunately such regular conversations rarely occur."

More specifically, the OAC is encouraging individuals to measure their weight and take the Campaign Challenge by making an online pledge to talk to their healthcare provider about the results. The campaign's website (www.YourWeightMatters.org) makes the first part of that easy by including a calculator for measuring body mass index, or BMI, which is found by dividing your weight by your height squared.

That number places you in one of the four main categories healthcare professionals use when assessing weight -- "normal," "overweight," "obesity," and "severe obesity" -- with a detailed description included to better understand the ramifications of each.

Besides all that, what do you actually get by taking the pledge?

Well, first, a free toolkit replete with useful information on things like proper nutrition, emotional issues, wellness tips and weight-loss options and their benefits.

And second -- and this may be the neatest part, given how intimidating that first healthcare provider-patient conversation can sometimes be -- sample questions for you to actually pose during your appointment.