Which vitamins and minerals does your body need?

vitamins and minerals

We all know that one of the most important parts of any weight loss program is diet. Eating healthy, whole foods in the right amounts is crucial to weight loss.

It’s very important to make sure your body is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly and stay healthy. Below are the top vitamins and minerals you need to maintain good health.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is extremely important to the health of your eyes, as well as red blood cell production, immune function, skin health and embryonic development.

Vitamin A can be found in fortified milk, organ meats, dark green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes and carrots.

B vitamins

B vitamins include B-1, B-2, B-6, B-12, pantothenic acid, niacin, biotin and folic acid. These vitamins play a critical role in your body’s ability to create and release energy. B vitamins are also responsible for creating red blood cells, which allow oxygen to move throughout your body.

B vitamins can be found in leafy green vegetables, whole grains, yogurt, seafood and eggs.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is particularly important when your body is under stress, including the type of stress that can often come with dieting: food deprivation, calorie reduction and cravings. Vitamin C helps your body maintain a healthy immune system and correct any damage done to your body by stress. It also works as a disease-fighting antioxidant that keeps your cells healthy.

Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruit, orange juice, kiwis, guavas, red and green peppers, cabbage and tomatoes.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E helps maintain the tissues in your body, such as your liver, skin and eyes. It also prevents the pollution in the air from causing damage to your lungs and works with the B vitamins to create red blood cells.

Vitamin E can be found in egg yolks, sardines, nuts, seeds, wheat germ, almonds, peanut butter and some oils.

Calcium

Calcium is essential for bone health. As a matter of fact, 99 percent of its role is to keep your bones and teeth strong, supporting skeletal structure and function. Calcium is also important for cell signaling, blood clotting, muscle contraction and nerve function.

Calcium can be found in dairy products, dark leafy greens (such as spinach and kale) and some fish (like sardines, salmon and rainbow trout).

Magnesium

Magnesium helps develop and maintain bones, maintain normal nerve and muscle function, support a healthy immune system and maintain a steady heartbeat. It also helps regulate blood glucose levels and aid in the production of energy and protein.

Magnesium can be found in nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, milk, bananas, dried apricots, avocados, halibut and other fish.

Potassium

Potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure, reduce the effects of salt and maintain regular digestive and muscular functioning. It may also reduce the risk of recurrent kidney stones and possibly decrease bone loss.

Potassium can be found in tomato paste and puree, white beans, yogurt, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, soybeans, bananas, potatoes and fish (such as flounder, sardines, cod and salmon).

Regardless of what type of diet you’re following, be sure you’re getting sufficient amounts of these vitamins and minerals every day to avoid deficiency and keep your body healthy and functioning at its best.

If your specific diet doesn’t allow some of the food sources mentioned for a specific vitamin or mineral, talk about taking supplements with your doctor.


Spices with health benefits

spices with health benefits

Do you use spices regularly in your cooking? If not, you should start. Here’s why.

The Benefits of Using Spices

Not only do spices add a ton of flavor to your food, but they offer great health benefits. Here are a few ways spices are good for your health:

1. Aid Weight Loss

Spices can help to increase your metabolism, helping you to lose weight. For example, studies have shown that capsaicin (found in chili peppers), may cause the body to burn extra calories for 20 minutes after eating.

2. Improve Heart Health

Research has shown cultures that eat spicy foods have a lower rate of heart attack and stroke. This may be because chili peppers can reduce the damaging effects of bad cholesterol (LDL). Additionally, the capsaicin in chili peppers may fight inflammation, a risk factor for heart disease.

3. Protect Against Cancer

According to the American Association for Cancer Research, capsaicin has the ability to kill some cancer and leukemic cells. Also, turmeric (a spice found in curry powder and some mustards) may slow the spread of cancer and the growth of tumors.

4. Protect Against Diabetes

Inflammation and high blood sugar levels both largely contribute to diabetes. Spices can improve blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation, helping to prevent or improve diabetes.

5. Improve Your Mood

Spicy foods increase your body’s production of “happy” hormones, like serotonin, which can help lessen stress and mild depression.

How to Get Spices into Your Diet

Small amounts of both dried and fresh spices can provide health benefits, so don’t worry if you’re not a spicy food person!

Below are some easy and delicious ideas for using spices in your cooking:

  • Put some slices of ginger or a pinch of cumin in a cup of hot tea
  • Add chopped chili peppers to soups, stews and chili
  • Coat shrimp in cumin and coriander and then sauté
  • Grate fresh ginger into vinaigrette
  • Add red pepper flakes or chopped ginger to stir-fry dishes
  • Make chicken curry
  • Sprinkle ground ginger on cooked carrots
  • Add cumin to brown rice or red lentils
  • Sprinkle ground cloves on applesauce or add to quick bread batters
  • Sprinkle turmeric* on egg salad, add to a chicken or seafood casserole or add to water when cooking rice

*To absorb 2,000 percent more turmeric, pair it with black pepper

Start with the suggestions above and then let them inspire you to experiment with your own ideas. In no time, you’ll be a pro at using spices in cooking and will enjoy the great taste of your food, as well as the added health benefits.


The alarming health effects of drinking soda

health effects of drinking soda

Let’s be honest: Few things are as refreshing as a nice, cold soda. But while drinking the occasional soda is OK, it’s not healthy to make fizzy, sweetened beverages a regular part of your diet — and not just because it can add inches to your waistline. Drinking soda can also cause a wide range of health problems in addition to obesity.

Soda can contribute to type-2 diabetes

There is strong evidence that shows a connection between regular soda consumption and type 2 diabetes.

People who consume soda regularly (one or two cans per day or more) have a 26 percent increased risk of developing the disease than people who rarely drink soda.

A study of 90,000 women that took place over eight years found that women who reported consuming at least one serving of a sugar-sweetened drink per day were twice as likely to have developed type-2 diabetes.

Soda can increase your risk of heart disease

Regularly drinking sugary drinks also has a negative impact on your heart health.

A study conducted over 20 years found that men who consumed a can of soda per day had a 20 percent higher risk of having a heart attack or dying from heart disease than men who rarely consumed soda. Studies show the same link between soda and heart disease in women.

In fact, in the same study of 90,000 women mentioned above, women who drank more than two servings of a sugary drink per day had a 40 percent higher risk of heart attacks or death from heart disease.

Researchers found that even when the women ate an otherwise healthy diet or maintained a healthy weight, the risk of heart disease lowered only slightly. In other words, soda is harmful to your health even if you’re not overweight and you eat a healthy diet.

Experts believe that soda’s high sugar content affects blood glucose, cholesterol, inflammation and metabolism, all of which can have an effect on your heart health.

Soda is bad for your bones

You wouldn’t think that drinking soda has an impact on your bones, but it does affect bone health, especially in young people. Soda contains high levels of phosphate. If you take in more phosphate than calcium, your bones deteriorate.

In fact, consuming soda tends to decrease your calcium, because you’re then less likely to drink milk, a vital source of calcium.

Soda is linked to obesity

Finally (and most obviously), regularly drinking soda is linked to weight gain. People who consume soda don’t feel as full as if they had consumed the same calories from solid food. As a result, they eat, which brings its own calorie load.

As we’ve discussed on this blog before, weight gain is a simple matter of calories in, calories out. If you consume more calories than you burn in a day, you’re bound to pile on the pounds.

“Soda has no nutritional value whatsoever and definitely has no place in a nutrition plan for healthy living or weight loss,” Dr. Dirk says. “Even diet sodas have no advantage.”

To avoid the many negative health consequences of drinking soda, it’s best to cut soda and other sugary drinks out of your diet. Studies show that reducing or eliminating sugary drinks from your diet can lead to better weight control among those who are initially overweight.

So next time you get a hankering for a fizzy drink, reach for a glass of sparkling water instead.


Healthy ways to satisfy your sweet tooth

sugar cravings

Few things are as addictive as sweets, and giving into your sugar cravings can have a huge negative impact on your weight loss efforts.

Fortunately, there are smart ways to satisfy your sweet tooth or avoid sweets altogether. Consider the following strategies to have your cake and stick to your diet, too:

Eat fruit

Yes, it’s obvious. But nature’s candy can provide a satisfying hit of sweetness while also delivering the nutrients, vitamins and fiber your body need.s

In particular, berries (especially blueberries, blackberries and strawberries) are an excellent source of natural antioxidants, which help reduce the “oxidative damage” that leads to a range of diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Quality over quantity

Controlling your sugar intake doesn’t have to mean giving up sweets forever. Instead of gorging on a pack of cheap candy or a devouring a half-pint of generic ice cream, treat yourself to smaller but higher-quality desserts in moderation.

Whether it’s a fresh, from-scratch cookie, a gourmet chocolate bonbon or a decadent macaron, savor a small, quality treat occasionally rather than eating low-quality packaged treats every day.

If you have a weakness for chocolate, try dark chocolate, which has a range of positive health benefits when eaten in moderation. The key is to buy real (not processed and sweetened) dark chocolate. That means a cocoa content of 60 percent or more.

Don’t waste your sugar

It takes some planning, but consuming sugar wisely can make the difference between reaching your weight loss goals and giving in to your worst impulses.

A simple way to regulate your sugar intake is to make trade-offs. Do you love the occasional soda? Fine, but be sure to take a pass on dessert. Or if you have a craving for dessert, try to forego soda for water.

But remember to avoid making soda a regular habit. They may seem harmless, but sugary drinks are a major contributor to the obesity epidemic.

Sodas and other sweetened beverages, including juices, are packed with sugar and calories. Naturally, if you drink sugary beverages, you won’t feel as full as if you’d eaten the same calories in the form of solid food.

Distract yourself

Cravings are all about psychology. The more you focus on a food you crave, the stronger and more undeniable that craving gets.

So to avoid giving into a sugar craving, consider distracting yourself. Watch a movie. Go for a walk. Strike up a conversation with someone. Anything to get your mind off of that sugary sweet lurking around the corner.

You can also remove yourself from environments that keep dangerous sweets top of mind. For instance, instead of working at a coffee shop with a display full of decadent pastries, try spending time at a food-free coffee shop.

Find a healthy way to make what you love

Here’s a secret: You don’t have to say goodbye to your favorite desserts. You just have to get creative with how you make them.

There are countless ways to reinvent your favorite desserts, replacing empty-calorie, high-fat, sugar-loaded ingredients with comparatively healthy alternatives.

Some of our favorite healthy desserts include:

You deserve a sweet every now and then. Using these strategies, you can treat yourself on occasion or find ways to avoid indulging when you know you shouldn’t. All it takes is a little planning and a little strategy, and you can have your dessert while sticking to your weight loss plan.


The Health Benefits of Walking

health benefits of walkingFrom limited free time to sore joints, it’s easy to find yourself discouraged when it comes to daily exercise. The good news? There are plenty of low-impact options that don’t require an expensive gym membership. In fact, one of the best ways to kick-start weight loss and fight associated diseases like depression and diabetes is one of the simplest: walking.

What Can Walking Do For Me?

The real question is what can’t walking do. From heart health to lower blood pressure and regulated blood sugar, walking is a great way to benefit all systems of the body. A brisk walk taken daily (or even just a few times a week) is shown to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, as well as breast and colon cancer.

Walking is an easy, cost-free investment in your overall health. Not only does walking extend your lifespan by keeping chronic diseases at bay, but it also improves your quality of life: walking is a great way to trim your waist (and tone those calves, if you throw in a few hills) so you’ll feel strong and confident. The daily dose of Vitamin D that you’ll get from walking outdoors—as well as the rush of feel-good endorphins—is shown to be an effective antidepressant.

Walking and Weight Loss

Complicated workout plans are notoriously difficult to stick with. Walking at a moderate pace, however, is often enjoyable for most people, which means that it’s easy to incorporate into a daily routine. Whether you’re walking solo or with a group (don’t forget your favorite pet!), 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week provides the aerobic exercise you need to help maintain your goal weight. Walking is especially beneficial for patients recovering from bariatric surgery, since it’s a low-impact, self-directed activity that lets you go at your own pace.

Getting Into a Routine

When you’re walking for fitness, you’ll get maximum benefits if you pay a little extra attention to your posture. Engage your core by standing up tall and looking straight ahead, and minimize impact by walking smoothly, rolling from heel to toe. Pumping your arms just slightly will keep those muscles toned, while choosing a few hills is great, low-impact form of strength training. Depending on your fitness level, you may need to work your way up to the recommended 30-60 minutes a day, five days a week. Just remember that, no matter where you start, the most important thing is that you do start.

Dr. Dirk’s weight-loss patients are often advised to embrace walking as an enjoyable way to keep weight off post-surgery. Whether you’re looking for lakeside trails or you march right through the center of town, incorporate the things you love into your daily walks to ensure that you stick with your regimen.


Take Charge of Your Health For American Heart Month

American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month, and it’s a great time to take action to improve your heart health, especially if you’re overweight or obese.

Why Your Heart Health Matters

Did you know that heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for American men and women? Heart disease claims the lives of 1 out of every 4 American adults — that’s about 17 million people every year.

The good news is that there are certain risk factors that can tell you if you’re likely to get heart disease. By learning about the risk factors you may have, you can work to prevent these health problems.

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Risk factors are conditions or habits that make it more likely that you’ll develop a disease. So what are the key risk factors for heart disease?

  • Being overweight or obese
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Diabetes and prediabetes
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Smoking

In the past, we’ve discussed how obesity can lead to many of these other conditions. Reducing your weight can go far when it comes to improving your heart health.

Take Action: Know Your Numbers

There is no better time than American Heart Month to become more aware of your important health numbers. By learning about and keeping track of these numbers, you can learn your risk factors for heart disease, monitor your progress in reducing them and motivate yourself to stick to good heart health.

The key numbers include:

  • Body weight and body-mass index (BMI)
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood cholesterol
  • Blood sugar

To find out your numbers and to set up a plan to bring them within the healthy range, arrange an appointment with a doctor.

Take Action: Change Your Lifestyle

The best way to improve your health, reduce your weight and prevent heart disease is to make positive changes to your lifestyle through diet and exercise.

To reduce your weight and fight back against heart disease, eating a healthy, balanced diet and committing to an active lifestyle is crucial.

Dr. Dirk recommends a diet that is high in protein, low in carbs and made up of unprocessed foods, lean proteins, whole grains and produce. Committing to daily calorie-burning aerobic exercise is also crucial to effective weight loss.

Sometimes, diet and exercise aren’t enough to help you lose weight. In those cases, weight loss surgery is an option. When paired with diet and exercise, weight loss surgery has been shown to have a real effect on heart health:

  • 95% of people are able to avoid diabetes or make it easier to treat
  • 93% of people see improved blood pressure

Don’t wait until American Heart Month is over to start taking your health seriously. Call (214) 308-0189 today to set up an appointment with Dr. Dirk to discuss your weight loss options.

 


Apple Cider Vinegar Promotes Weight Loss: Fact or Fiction?

apple cider vinegar

So-called health experts love to tout the health benefits of certain “superfoods” like apple cider vinegar. While many of these foods can indeed be nutritious, these broad health claims are often exaggerated or completely unsupported by science.

In recent years, apple cider vinegar fans have claimed that the superfood can boost weight loss efforts.

But is the link between this so-called superfood and weight loss a verifiable fact or just a myth? Here are the facts:

What’s the hype around apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apple sugars. For decades, people have proclaimed that apple cider vinegar is a magic elixir with a range of health benefits. Those supposed health benefits include:

  • It helps keep blood sugar under control, decreasing the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
  • It supports good digestion and an improved immune system.
  • It promotes weight loss.

Are the health benefits of apple cider vinegar real or just a myth?

Studies show that, of the purported health benefits of apple cider vinegar, only some are true. Let’s look at each claim one by one.

Consuming apple cider vinegar may help keep blood sugar under control.

There is substantial evidence that apple cider vinegar has a positive effect on regulating blood sugar. According to Carol S. Johnston, associate director of the nutrition program at Arizona State University, vinegar appears to inhibit the enzyme that aids in the digestion of starch. Because less starch is digested, less of the starch sugars make it into the blood.

In the long run, keeping blood sugar in check can help reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

It’s important to note that all vinegar — not just apple cider vinegar — produces this blood sugar effect. That’s because all vinegar contains acetic acid, the ingredient that inhibits starch digestion.

Apple cider vinegar may aid digestion.

Since apple cider vinegar is derived from fermented apple juice, it can contain probiotics, like many other fermented foods. Probiotics are bacteria that help keep the stomach and digestive system healthy.

The probiotics are contained in the “mother,” or the cobwebby strands that are found in raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. Pasteurized apple cider vinegar is clear because the pasteurization process removes the “mother,” which takes away the probiotic benefit.

Still, while raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar may offer probiotic benefits, this has not been verified by research.

Apple cider vinegar — like all vinegar — may have a prebiotic effect, however. While “probiotic” refers to live bacteria, “prebiotic” refers to a type of plant fiber that nourishes the beneficial bacteria already living in the large bowel and colon. The healthier the good bacteria, the more robust your digestive system.

Does apple cider vinegar promote weight loss?

Unlike the other benefits of apple cider vinegar, the purported weight loss benefit is a myth.

There is simply no science to back up the claim that apple cider vinegar triggers a metabolic process that results in weight loss, according to Scott Kahan, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness.

Other experts share this conclusion. Carol S. Johnston, the Arizona State University nutrition specialist, agrees: “Vinegar is not a magic bullet for weight loss.”

How to consume apple cider vinegar

If you want to consume apple cider vinegar for its blood sugar benefits, it is important to consume it correctly.

Dilute 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar in 8 ounces of water and drink it right before eating, once or twice a day.

But don’t overdo it. Consuming too much apple cider vinegar can have adverse health consequences. Because of the acidity of apple cider vinegar, overconsumption can cause stomach irritation, wear away at your tooth enamel and harm your esophagus.

What is an effective weight loss program?

Health and wellness specialists and doctors — including Dr. Dirk — agree that the most effective weight loss program doesn’t rely on a single superfood, but a comprehensive program of diet and exercise.

Fad diets, superfood and lose-weight-fast regimens are often ineffective and can even be detrimental to your health. Healthy and sustainable weight loss depends upon eating a healthy and balanced diet and incorporating calorie- and fat-burning workouts into your lifestyle.

So what are the real superfoods?

“Real superfoods are any type of food made by nature,” Dr. Dirk says. “Eating a balanced diet of small, frequent meals with minimal amounts of processed foods helps make you super-healthy.”

To learn more about Dr. Dirk’s nutrition recommendations, set up a consultation today.


5 Benefits of Exercise (that have nothing to do with weight loss)

5 benefits of exercise

While weight loss is the reason most people start working out, many stick with the habit long after they’ve met their goal weight. Of course, exercise is helpful for maintaining that healthy weight, but there are many other benefits of exercise than just watching the number on the scale drop.

Here of the top five reasons to work out that have nothing to do with weight loss.

1. Exercise wards off the common cold.

Since we’re entering cold and flu season, this is one benefit of exercise that shouldn’t be ignored. Research has shown that moderate amounts of aerobic exercise can boost the body’s natural defenses against viruses and bacteria. In fact, a recent study showed that people who worked out for 40 minutes four days a week were 25-50 percent less likely to catch a cold.

2. A good workout improves your mood.

You probably already know about endorphins, the feel-good hormones you feel after a good workout. But did you know that working out helps your mood at all times, not just immediately after exercise? One study even found that brisk walking can be as effective as prescription antidepressants for those suffering from mild to moderate depression.

3. Regular exercise promotes better sleep.

Being active regularly helps your body fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Just be sure not to exercise right before bedtime — you’ll be extra-energized instead of ready to hit the hay.

4. Exercise can increase your self-confidence. 

The confidence that comes from losing weight is something Dr. Dirk hears about time and time again from his satisfied patients. But even before people reach the major milestones of losing 50 or 100 pounds, they can still gain a sense of accomplishment from smaller milestones, like working out five days in a row or running a mile without stopping for the first time. Creating workout plans and sticking with them gives you lots of achievable goals to meet, even before you start shedding pounds.

5. Working out can improve your memory, creativity and more.

By increasing blood flow to the brain, exercise also promotes brain health. Many people report feeling more creative and thinking more clearly after a workout, and Scientific American agrees that the effects of a workout can help the brain by boosting memory and even reversing hippocampal shrinkage.

So the next time you’re thinking of skipping a workout, remember that it’s not just the calorie burn you’ll be missing out on. For more information on your weight loss surgery options, contact us today.

 


Patient Testimonial: Alynn Stapp

patient testimonial

 

Public speaking is one of the top fears faced by American adults. 20-year-old student Alynn Stapp was no different — until she received a gastric sleeve. Only a few months Dr. Dirk performed her surgery, she was more than confident enough to volunteer to speak in front of the class.

Alynn realized her obesity could only lead to health problems, so she decided to take the plunge and start a new, healthier lifestyle. Losing 100 pounds in six months has been no easy feat for Alynn, but with Dr. Dirk by her side, she says that’s it’s all worth it.

What was life like for you before the procedure? Did you have any health issues?

Life before surgery was tiring. I always seemed fatigued and stressed out. I had no known health issues, but I was on my way to becoming pre-diabetic.

What motivated you to get surgery?

The knowledge that I was headed down a road that lead to a mountain of health issues and physical limitations led me to get weight loss surgery.

How did Dr. Dirk help you throughout the process?

Dr. Dirk was always near the phone, day or night. No matter how silly my question or concern, he was there to provide support. I ended up having minor complications shortly after surgery and he saw me in the hospital a few days later. He found the problem and was able to treat it. He continued to check up on me every single day I was in the hospital, and his staff continued to check up after I was discharged. 

How has your life changed since?

My life has changed immensely, from my physical abilities to my social interactions. Rather than staying in and doing homework, I ditch it and hit a hot yoga session with a group of friends. It’s so freeing to be able to do whatever you want to do and not have your own body hold you back.

How have you changed your diet and exercise?

It’s not just my social life and my physical body that have changed, but my entire lifestyle, too. I eat whole, clean foods, not the empty carby junk that I used to eat. Being active is now fun — I enjoy doing things that get me moving and it’s hard for me to stand still anymore.

Was there a specific moment after surgery when you knew your life was going to be different?

Four months after surgery, I was down 65-70 pounds and feeling great. I was in my speech class and the professor needed someone to volunteer to go first and make a speech. We all sat there for five minutes before I stood up and confidently gave a speech I had just written and memorized in front of 45 people without any hesitation or nerves. I knew then that I was a completely different person than I was four months prior, and it could only get better.

What has the response from friends and family been like?

I chose not to make my surgery public with friends and only a select few family members know, but the ones who do know have been my biggest support system. They are incredibly proud and I have surpassed their expectations regarding weight loss.

What would you tell someone else considering weight loss surgery?

If I were to talk to someone who is debating weight loss surgery options, I would tell him or her to make sure they’re doing it for the right reasons. They need to do it because they want to improve their life and be in the best possible physical condition for themselves, not for anyone else. Weight loss surgery is not the easy way out, no matter what other people may tell you. It is mentally and physically challenging, but in the end, it’s all worth it.

Would you recommend Dr. Dirk and why?

I would 100 percent recommend Dallas weight loss surgeon, Dr. Dirk, not only because I trust him enough to cut me open, but because he is straightforward. If you’re obese and stuck with no other options, you need someone who will be blunt enough to tell what you’re doing wrong, but kind enough to help you through the process.

What is your favorite thing to do now that you have lost weight and are living a healthier, happier life?

My favorite thing to do since losing the weight is just simply being outside. Kayaking, paddle boarding, sunrise yoga, even taking my dog to the dog park — it’s all so much more enjoyable now that I don’t have an extra 112 pounds to cart around. It’s freeing when the things you once hated doing become the activities you now lose sleep to participate in.


Obesity Putting a Strain on Emergency and Medical Equipment

obesity and medical equipment

When it comes to the health problems obesity creates, diabetes and heart disease top the list. But what happens when the patient is so obese, they have trouble even getting into a doctor’s office to be diagnosed? Obesity is taking a toll on not only doctors and paramedics, but their medical equipment, as well.

A recent study in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley area by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found that patients calling 911 are more likely to be obese now than ever before. The counties in the study each saw a 5 to 10 percent increase in obese callers.

Once paramedics arrive to assess the situation, it can be a daunting task. Not only do they have to be able to physically carry the patient, but they often use devices that may not work on obese patients.

“Obesity interferes with an obese person’s ability to receive medical care, even emergency medical care,” Dr. Dirk says. “Even with attention to the specific needs of the increasing weight of Americans, a lot of medical equipment cannot support obese patients.”

The obesity epidemic has made medical professionals rethink their equipment. A traditional ambulance gurney can only support 330 pounds, and operating room tables often only hold 500 pounds.

Many paramedic organizations, doctors’ offices and even hospitals have had to invest in special stretchers, surgical tables or even CAT scan machines because the standard versions cannot support the weight of the many obese patients.

“When patients exceed the limits of hospital or emergency responder equipment, that means they may not be able to receive life-saving care,” Dr. Dirk says.

Whether you’re on the brink of calling 911 or not, it’s important to consider the many impacts your weight can have on your health. If it’s time for you to take the next step toward a healthy weight and you don’t know where to start, contact Dr. Dirk today.