As Ohioans prepare for Thanksgiving meals, top doctor warns about overindulging and obesity

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — As Ohioans are planning their Thanksgiving menus, the state’s top doctor wants them to remember to make good lifestyle choices.

People of various ages sit around a table for a Thanksgiving meal
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Ohio Department of Health Director, Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, said 38.1% of Ohioans are considered obese by the Centers for Disease Control. That’s defined as having a body mass index over 30. Vanderhoff said Ohio ranks seventh in the nation for obesity.

Vanderhoff said Ohioans need to focus on their health more, especially around the holidays.

“Do you need a second piece of pumpkin pie?” he asked on a statewide call with reporters.

Studies have shown environment, genetics, medications, stress and sleep all contribute to obesity along with food and activity.

Vanderhoff said pilot programs to help provide health food to Ohioans have proven to have some success in the past. And now, he said he has tasked his staff to come up with an “obesity action plan.”

“This project involves taking a look at what we are currently doing, what the evidence shows us is working and what other states are doing. We then plan to create strategies that we hope will move the needle on that obesity prevalence number,” Vanderhoff said.

Dr. Barto Burguera, chairman of the Endocrinology and Metabolism Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, said obesity often leads to other chronic and dangerous diseases. He said there are five bullet points to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight:

· Improved nutrition

· Increased activity

· Decreasing appetite, possibly with medication

· Get proper amounts of sleep

· Reduce stress

After being asked if that’s easier said than done for many Ohioans who have demanding jobs, challenging family lives and other factors that make losing weight difficult, Burgera said Ohioans who have issues with their weigh should consult their doctors because there are new medications that can help.

However, some of the semaglutide medications that have been making the news recently for helping with weight loss can cost about $1000 a month. And most are not yet covered by health insurance. And even if insurers did cover it, the Kaiser Family Foundation said 7.7% of Ohioans lack health insurances and many more are underinsured.