Obesity is a public health issue of epidemic proportions in the United States. Two out of three adults are now overweight or obese, as are one third of our children and teenagers. According to the CDC, these numbers are expected to increase over the coming decade.

Despite huge investments in research and clinical programs around weight control, obesity has been steadily rising for over thirty years. Underscoring this trend is how sharply obesity contributes to many other illnesses. Obesity is associated with higher risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression. It also leads to a lower self-esteem and in the long run possibly contributes to depression. Obesity at an early age not only sets the stage for adult obesity; it also increases the risk of heart disease in adulthood, as well as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes, which is also on the rise due to obesity. Obesity has been called a “gateway disease”.

A HEAVY TOLL

In addition to its physical and mental toll, obesity imposes a heavy fiscal toll on us as well. According to the American Heart Association, we spend over $190 billion a year in weight-related medical bills. Polls consistently rank obesity as one of our top three most urgent health concerns, after healthcare cost and accessibility. The $6.3 billion weight-loss services industry attests to the fact that America cares about this problem.

A NEW APPROACH – BEYOND COUNTING CALORIES

While overeating and sedentary behavior certainly play their part, obesity is about much more than exercise and counting calories. A predisposition to fatten easily or remain lean is determined to a great extent by our genetics. Refined sugars and processed foods cause our insulin levels to spike erratically through the day, while sleep deprivation and excessive stress also contribute heavily to this dangerous recipe. Contemporary research has identified a new and exciting factor in the equation: the microbiome. This is the vast population of bacteria residing in our digestive tracts. They are heavily influenced by various factors (like diet and antibiotic exposure), and can play a significant role in our health or disease.

IRIS CAN HELP

IRIS Wellness Labs can put together all of the personal, medical, genomic and microbiome factors in an effective and holistic approach to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. IRIS has one of the most comprehensive approaches in the industry, customizing each program and tailoring it to fit each person’s situation. Obesity is a thief, depriving us of longevity and quality of life. IRIS gives it back, using sophisticated tools and coaching to guide each person on their journey to a healthier life.

Written by Bill Schaser, Director of Education