Behavioral health and wellness: 3 articles in support of discussing activity and weight

From the New York Times, 3 articles about recent research that relevant to mental health professionals who help their patients with weight loss and wellness.

  • Published on Dec. 22, “Can You Be ‘Fat but Fit’?”, which reports on a very thorough (over 1.3 million subjects, with data collected during 29 years) Swedish study that normal weight men had a 30 to 48 percent lower risk of premature death then obese men who were fit. This study disputes previous findings that hypothesized that it was possible to be “fat, but fit,” and that fit obese people did not have an increased risk of premature death due to their obesity.  The authors of the current study theorize that the previous studies did not study an adequately broad population.  The article provides a  link to the original study.
  • Also published on Dec. 22, “Can You Reverse Fatty Liver?” reports that one in five American adults have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, associated with obesity. The study, which had much less subjects than the previous study, 293, found tentative, but heartening, evidence that “lifestyle changes” (behavioral changes that mental health professionals can help with) which resulted in weight loss were associated with reduced fatty liver symptoms.  The good news- a subgroup of the study had exciting results, with 90 percent of the subgroup achieving total resolution of their fatty liver disease.  The bad new- this group had to lose at least 10 percent of their body weight.  This is obviously very challenging, and many of these people are likely to benefit from support from a behavioral healthcare professional as they work on weight loss. This article also provides a link to the original study.
  • Finally, published on Dec. 25, “A New Christmas Tradition: Take a Walk?” discusses data from about ½ million Jawbone Up (a popular activity tracker) uses in various cultures on holidays. Americans are less active in general during the holidays, and take significantly fewer steps on Christmas Day. The pattern of reduced activity persists even in to early January.  The article notes that other cultures with healthier populations have more active traditions on that day, and recommends a new holiday tradition for Americans – “take a holiday walk.”

mhconcierge’s take on these articles:  it is important for behavioral health professionals to ask about the activity level of the people who consult us, and to encourage more activity when needed, especially for people with weight problems. The information in these articles may be helpful to provide to them as part of an overall behavioral wellness plan.  These articles also support collaborating with the primary care physicians to help with treatment of patients with excessive weight.

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