LOS ANGELES, Oct. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — It’s stressful these days for Dr. Scott Cunneen, Director of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, as it is for most people in the medical field. Dr. Cunneen spends his days helping his patients attain and maintain good health by educating them on how a healthy weight enhances their lives in so many ways and, if necessary, providing the surgical tool to help them get there. And, of course, COVID 19 hasn’t helped. The fear, the isolation, the boredom, the uncertainty of jobs, homes, relationships have many people on an emotional roller coaster, which is often reflected on the scale.
Dr. Cunneen notes, as the pandemic drags on, that media tend to focus on the statistics about the spread of the virus as well as the various underlying conditions that increase the risk of contracting it. We’ve all heard them. Advanced age usually tops the list, followed closely by diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and more. What was originally relegated to the bottom of the list but has moved up, however, is the one overriding condition that causes or exacerbates so many of the others. The CDC has recently updated its risk assessment of obesity to include those who are “just” overweight, including anyone with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 and up, roughly two-thirds of the adult American population.
Recent data show that only about 12 per percent of adults in the United States are considered metabolically healthy, that is, meeting minimum requirements for good health, including maintaining a healthy weight, normal levels of cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure. Dr. Cunneen, regarded as a leading bariatric surgeon, can see one predominant factor contributing to the co-morbidities that impact our health and make us more susceptible to this – and several other – diseases. Obesity.
It’s not enough to look at a patient and tell him or her to “just lose some weight,” he explains. “Obesity is not caused just by a lack of willpower or lack of desire to lose weight,” he explains. “Being severely overweight for a long period of time actually changes the body chemistry and brain chemistry – the way the brain is wired — making it incredibly difficult to take off weight and often impossible to keep it off for a prolonged period of time,” Dr. Cunneen said.
“I’m not speaking as a bariatric surgeon campaigning for more patients who want to fit into their skinny jeans, “Dr. Cunneen says. “It’s not also about health, it’s entirely about health. Especially right now,” he said.
“Over the past few years, obesity has been designated as a disease in and of itself,” the doctor explained, “and is a prime precursor to many of the maladies that have been named as risk-factors in COVID 19,” he added.
So while the media do encourage mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing, this physician would like to see a little more understanding of the part obesity plays in the overall picture of COVID 19 risk factors. He urges everyone to use this downtime to re-evaluate eating and exercise patterns and to make even small changes – maybe one at a time – to increase the chances of this formidable Coronavirus being kicked to the curb.
Dr. Scott Cunneen is a fellow of the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, and author of Weighty Issues: Getting the Skinny on Weight Loss Surgery and 21 Things You Need to Know About Diabetes and Weight Loss Surgery (the latter published by the American Diabetes Association).
Contact: Nancy Sayles, The Sayles Organization
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SOURCE Dr. Scott Cunneen