Weight Loss to Prevent Disease
June 2021 Issue - Pink Prescriptions
Weight Loss to Prevent Disease
We’ve all heard that being overweight is unhealthy, and weight loss can help prevent illness and disease, but how? We asked local medical experts to weigh in on the advantages of losing weight. Looking good on the beach is just a fringe benefit!
by Tracy Blusewicz, MD
How does weight loss help with urinary incontinence?
The short answer is it helps in about every way! Urinary incontinence affects almost 50% of women as they age, which accounts for approximately 19 million in the United States. Excess body weight, especially the dreaded belly fat, increases abdominal pressure on the bladder and weakens the pelvic floor. This leads to a lack of support for the bladder, while putting more pressure on it, which leads to leaking. Leaks can be from a few drops to the total loss of the bladder contents. Actions like coughing, laughing, running and jumping normally put pressure on the bladder, but when there is extra weight, that added pressure can literally push open the tube from the bladder, called the urethra, and cause its contents to flow out.
Increased weight also usually leads to inflammation in the bladder from a poor diet, which leads to another type of incontinence called urge incontinence. This is more of bladder spasms and irritability, which causes urinary frequency and possible leakage of urine. Another factor of having excess weight is the increased risk of diabetes, which can also lead to a weaker bladder. So, losing weight by following a healthier diet and increasing exercise will lead to stronger pelvic floor muscles, abdominal core strength, and less abdominal pressure on the bladder. The healthier diet will have less preservatives, sugars and bladder irritants. The healthier diet and weight loss will lead to less chances of diabetes. All of this leads to a lesser frequency of stress urinary incontinence and urge incontinence, which leads to a better quality of life!
Tracy Blusewicz, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., compassionate, genuine bedside manner has earned her the trust of many women for their health care needs. She can be contacted at Advanced Women’s Care of the Lowcountry | The Medical Spa 843-341-9700;
By Yvette-Marie Pellegrino, MD
How does losing weight help prevent diabetes?
According to the World Health Organization, nearly 90% of people living with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Obesity and type 2 diabetes are now considered to be international epidemics, and in 1973, endocrinologist Ethan Sims, MD, whose groundbreaking research explored the relationship between obesity and diabetes, coined the term “diabesity” to emphasize the relationship. Since then the prevalence of diabetes has paralleled the rate of increase in obesity with a 20 times higher likelihood of developing diabetes if one is obese.
In addition, a Cleveland Clinic study published in 2017 indicates that obesity now tops smoking as the number one cause of preventable death in the United States.
So the easy answer is “type 2 diabetes is caused by obesity, and the first line treatment is diet and exercise.”
Prevention and initial management of diabetes are the same: Control weight, especially around the mid-line, through a heart healthy diet and exercise. The development of diabetes was found to decrease significantly in people who followed those lifestyle changes, and a loss of 5-10% of body weight can improve insulin action, decrease fasting glucose concentrations and reduce the need for some diabetes medications.
You can avoid “diabesity” by limiting simple carbohydrates, increasing dietary fiber and engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week. Add moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) at least two days per week. Strive to keep your body mass index (BMI) below 25, waist circumference at or less than 40 inches for males and 35 inches for females and body fat percentage at or less than 25% for males and 32% for females.
Yvette-Marie Pellegrino, M.D., FAAFP, is a primary care physician with Beaufort Memorial Lady’s Island Internal Medicine, and is board certified in both family and obesity medicine. A graduate of University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Dr. Pellegrino has served on the faculty at University of North Carolina School of Medicine and Wake Forest Baptist Health, and as a preceptor for nurse practitioner students at East Carolina University.
by James F. Gigante, MD
How does losing weight help
with Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea is when you start and stop breathing throughout the night because your airway closes while you sleep, lowering your body's supply of oxygen. In the morning most people feel tired or fatigued even when they have gotten what is a full nights sleep. Sleep Apnea can be potentially dangerous, increasing your chances of things like stroke, heart attack, atrial fibrillation, lung problems, obesity and even death. If you are overweight, your risk for sleep apnea increases significantly. For example, the extra tissue at the back of your throat from the excess weight can relax over your airway and block air access to your lungs. That's why snoring is so common. Abdominal fat can compress your chest wall, which decreases the ability of your lungs to expand to full volume, further affecting your oxygen intake. Losing weight can have a huge effect on sleep apnea, and if you lose a significant amount of weight, you can even turn things around completely. Unfortunately, sleep apnea can also cause weight gain because insufficient sleep can lead to overeating and make it more difficult to ultimately lose weight. But making a real effort to exert yourself during the day, eating a healthy low-calorie diet and limiting alcohol intake, among other things, can really make a difference. Early intervention is important, so you should talk to your doctor if someone tells you that you snore, or you are concerned. They will order a sleep study to determine if you have sleep apnea. This is a disease with excellent treatments that will give you more energy and lower risks of these deadly conditions. Everyone should be screened for this and other sleep disturbances at every yearly visit with their doctor.
James F. Gigante, MD is a Board Certified doctor of Internal Medicine and a fellow with the American College of Physicians. He has been practicing medicine for 25 years, the last 17 here in the Lowcountry. 843-681-2222; 35 Bill Fries Drive, Bldg H, HHI.