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Reasons to Shed Pounds in the New Year

On January 1, many people make a resolution to lose weight in the New Year. The reasons tend to revolve around people wanting to feel stronger, fit back into skinny jeans, and to feel better physically and mentally.

According to Dr. Fernando Bonanni, the director of The Institute for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery at Abington Hospital – Jefferson Health, there are some serious health benefits to losing weight.

“The respiratory system, cardiovascular system, lungs, muscles, bones, immune system – they’re all designed to carry a certain amount of weight,” Dr. Bonanni said. “We’re not physically designed to carry around an extra 100 pounds.”

Our bodies are constructed to get you through life, illness, injury and aging. Being overweight or obese can cause those essential systems to become overtaxed.

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“If you drove a car up a hill every day, you’d have a reasonable expectation of that car’s life expectancy – the different systems of the car are all going to wear out at a certain rate,” Dr. Bonanni explained. “However, if you drove the same route in that same car, but with another car sitting on top of it, all of those systems would wear out a lot faster.” The same is true for your body.

“We’re seeing a progressive epidemic of obesity that leads to metabolic and mechanical system failures,” Dr. Bonanni said. “If you are morbidly obese for more than five years and are under 45 years old, you can lose up to 22 years from your lifespan.”

That’s because being overweight or obese increases your risk of many chronic conditions that can cut your life short, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, liver disease and several forms of cancer.

“You’re at a higher risk of any disease in any organ system. You don’t have the normal defenses against aging, injury or illness,” he said.

However, losing excess pounds and getting to a healthy weight can change all of that. Here’s how:

It can lower your risk of chronic conditions

Just like gaining weight can increase your risk of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep apnea and more, losing weight can lower your risk.

“By losing weight, if you’re diabetic, there’s a 70 to 95 percent chance of curing your diabetes,” Dr. Bonanni said. “You can reduce your heart disease risk back to normal for your age. Your risk for cancer goes back to normal and infertility can be reversed.”

He also said you can reduce the adverse health effects of obesity on your liver, unless the damage is too great.

“The damage will not reverse, but it will stop progressing,” he said. Similarly, if excess weight has resulted in permanent damage to your joints, taking the weight off won’t reverse the damage, but it can ease the pain.

“The problem with permanent damage is it can’t be repaired [by losing weight], but it can be improved,” he said.

It can make you feel better inside

Being overweight or obese has been associated with mental health and self-esteem issues. Losing weight can improve those areas.

“You have a better feeling about yourself and better confidence,” Dr. Bonanni said. “We often hear patients say that [losing weight] gives them the feeling that they’re being recognized as a person and respected on the same level as everyone else.”

Shedding excess pounds has also been credited with resolving depression.

Learn more about our comprehensive bariatric options for weight loss during a free information session. Register online or call 215-481-2204.

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