Nutrition, in a broad physiologic sense, is defined as the process by which a living organism assimilates food and uses it for growth and for replacement of tissues. One definition includes the limitation that nutrition is to maintain the organism “in its normal condition….”
What is considered normal?
Normal, biologically, is a lack of observable abnormalities or deficiencies. A mathematical or statistical perspective of normal is “average”. Reports state 60% of Americans are now either overweight or obese. Studies continue to indicate that obesity is now a statistically “normal condition” in the US, UK and even China. The rate of Chinese obesity, along with their economy, is growing at a faster rate than ours! The same reasons are given in China as here in the US for this growing problem—less physical labor, a more sedentary lifestyle and “fast food”.
Obesity and its implications
The negative effects of unhealthy diets and lifestyles are well documented; hypertension, diabetes and cancer are at the top of the short list. More links of overweight and obesity to disease continue to be made. A study by RAND Corporation researchers, published in January 2004, credits obesity with the sharp increase in disability rates over the past twenty years. The RAND group reported disability cases stemming from musculoskeletal problems (noted as low back and chronic back pain) and diabetes as growing faster than any others. They drew a direct link from accelerating obesity levels to the increased disability rates from these causes.
The increase in obesity could be seen as a positive development for the practice of chiropractic. Just think how many more people will now be experiencing musculoskeletal problems! That, of course, is not the philosophy or mindset of chiropractic and holistic care practitioners.
When reviewing exam notes and documentation from patient files, it is not often that I see the doctor has noted any counsel, direction, recommendation or referrals made to patients whose weight could be a factor in their current condition and overall health. Therapy, exercise and strength building regimens are certainly documented…but weight loss, rarely. Granted, obesity and overweight can be sensitive and difficult issues to discuss, particularly with those who are most in need of the discussion. Difficult or not, it is a function of a true healthcare provider.
Many patients who suffer from degenerative joint disease or fibromyalgia can benefit from nutritional supplements formulated for these conditions. With proper supplementation and your encouragement and guidance, their mobility and activity levels can begin to increase as they suffer less pain and restriction. Increased activity, while helping to build overall fitness, is a necessary component to effective weight loss.
There are many, many more physical and metabolic conditions and deficiencies that contribute to weight gain or make it more difficult for your patients to control their weight. You do not have to be a “nutrition geek” to implement nutritional testing or supplementation in your practice. Now, more than ever before, you have the availability of the very best nutritional companies to enable you to make the testing and any necessary supplementation available to your patients. You can then utilize these resources as an entry point to weight loss discussions with your patients.
Many people resolve at the beginning of the year to embark on weight loss and fitness programs. Will you resolve to help them reach their goal?
Ms. Plank has an extensive background in medical and facilities management. During the past 15 years, Ms. Plank has provided technical and management services to healthcare providers, specializing in radiology and neurology. She is currently the Vice President of Corporate Services for Practice Perfect. Contact her at
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