Q&A with Dr. Umar Razzaq: Answering Questions About Obesity & Weight Loss

Q. What are some common risk factors for obesity?

A. Unhealthy lifestyle habits increase your risk of gaining weight and obesity. Common unhealthy lifestyle habits to avoid include lack of physical activity, eating too much saturated or trans-fat foods and/or having a diet very high in sugar. Stress is also an important factor in obesity. High and chronic stress increases the hormone cortisol, which makes you want to eat more and disrupts your sleep.

Other risk factors include certain underlying diseases such as Cushing’s disease and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Prescriptions such as steroids and some antidepressants, may also cause weight gain. Talk to your primary care provider to treat these underlying diseases and discuss different medication options.

Q. Can obesity be genetic?

A. Yes, obesity can be genetic but varies dramatically from person to person. Research is still ongoing, and more than 50 genes have been found to be associated with obesity. As this is a factor we cannot change, it is best to try to modify the other risk factors associated with obesity.

Q. What are some easy ways to exercise?

A. It is recommended to have 150 minutes of exercise per week, which is 30 minutes, five days a week. There are many easy exercises to incorporate into daily life, such as brisk walking, cycling, lifting weights (start light to avoid injury) or playing a sport like basketball. Walking is by far the easiest as it requires no equipment and can be done around your home, in a park, in a mall or neighborhood.

Q. What foods should I be eating if I am looking for tips to lose weight?

A. The following foods are healthy options to incorporate into a new diet:

  • Fruits, vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, carrots etc.
  • Beware ready-made salad dressings, which can contain a lot of fat and sugar.
  • Lean meats such as salmon and chicken. Make sure they are prepared in a healthy way such as grilled or baked, with minimal oil.
  • Beans, lentils, and legumes are high in protein keeping you fuller for longer.
  • Foods high in fiber such as wholegrains, makes you feel fuller, longer as well.
  • Stop drinking soda pop as it is loaded with sugar.
  • Make more meals from whole foods at home, as ready-made meals and fast-food restaurants have additional fats, sodium and sugars.

Q. What are some easy measurements to track (calories, sugars, etc.) when looking to lose weight?

A. Your body mass index (BMI) tells you about your body fatness in relation to your height. To calculate your BMI, use this formula:

weight in kg
(height in meters) x (height in meters)

Or use this online CDC BMI calculator to find out if you have a healthy BMI between 18.5 and 24.9: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html

  • Waist circumference is important and easy to measure. The worst type of fat is that on your waist as it increases your risk for a variety of health problems. Males should be less than 40 inches and women who are not pregnant should be less than 35 inches.
  • Calories can be counted but are a bit more difficult to do. Stay within 2,000 calories a day on average. Aim for 1,500 calories if you want to lose weight. Please consult your primary care provider when setting up a diet or nutrition plan

Q. What options are available at Holzer for weight loss?

A. Please talk to your primary care provider at Holzer to discuss available classes, get referrals to a Registered Dietician, and receive prescribed medications if necessary. Holzer Therapy and Wellness Center in Gallipolis is also a great resource for fitness and healthy lifestyle information.

Dr. Razzaq completed medical school at West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, West Virginia. He is currently in his second year of residency at Holzer Health System where he specializes in Family Medicine and Primary Care. Dr. Razzaq is accepting patients at Holzer Jackson. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 1-855-4-HOLZER.

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