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It is Time to Integrate Obesity Management into Chiropractic

Obesity and obesity related diseases continue to be an expanding problem in the United States and around the world.  More and more evidence is becoming available regarding the epidemic of obesity.   Most of the diseases that we previously attributed to old age are not really related to age as much as to excessive body fat:   type-two diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, gout, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, liver malfunction,  stroke, hiatal hernia, and a general state of inflammation.

Since the 1970s obesity has risen in America by two-thirds.  Childhood obesity has risen at an even more alarming rate. 

Worker’s Comp Woes

A study conducted by Duke University and published in Archives of Internal Medication revealed that obese workers cost their employers twice as much in worker’s compensation claims as their fit colleagues.  The researchers expressed hope that this study will not cause a backlash against hiring of fat employees, but rather that businesses would promote gym memberships and wellness programs for their employees.  Indeed some employers have initiated wellness programs. 

Diets Do Not Work

UCLA researchers analyzed 31 weight loss studies and concluded that for most people diets do not work.  Two-thirds of the dieters regained the weight they had lost.  Certainly science has shown us for years that serial dieting actually makes our bodies more resistant to long term weight loss.

Life Style Changes Do Work

The National Weight Control Registry analyzed the traits that lead to successful long term weight loss.  In addition to watching their diet, eating breakfast, keeping a food/weight journal, and turning off their TV, they exercised….. a lot - 60 to 90 minutes per day.  For most, the primary exercise was walking.

Chiropractic as “Activating” Care

How can chiropractic aid in quelling the world-wide epidemic of obesity?  In addition to counseling our patients about nutrition, adequate sleep , activities of daily living, and exercise; we can “activate” our patients through chiropractic treatment.   Much has been said in recent years about the importance of active care in healing and weight loss.  But many of the patients counseled by chiropractors to start exercising present this quandary, “Doc, I used to exercise a lot and I was trim, but now pain prevents me from exercising.  I have become fatter now which makes my pain worse.  It hurts to exercise, but lack of exercise increases my pain.  I am frustrated.”  Certainly some of the frustration presented by patients is a result of passivity on their part, and we need to help them to reject passivity and get back in the game.

If pain keeps patients from being active and chiropractic helps them to conquer pain, we need to make sure that our patients make the most of their time when they are not hurting.  In this manner chiropractic activates patients, allowing them to exercise.    For patients with refractory pain who only receive temporary pain relief from chiropractic, we must ask them to make the most of their time of respite.  If a patient only has relief for a day or two after treatment, have them increase their activity in that time period.  As they lose weight they will regain their health and their pain will diminish.   As long as they are progressing to a more active lifestyle, chiropractic will be part of the solution.  If, however, we allow our patients to become passive and reliant on us for relief, then we may be contributing to their problems of chronic pain, depression, and obesity.