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Obesity isn’t just based on lifestyle


Obesity is a statewide problem. As of 2022, two in five adults in Mississippi are obese or morbidly obese, and nearly half of Mississippi children are overweight or obese.

Dr. Gurugubelli
Dr. Simhachalam Gurugubelli

Dr. Simhachalam Gurugubelli, an internal medicine specialist at Memorial, received training in obesity medicine at Harvard. This training makes him one of the very few internal medicine physicians in the nation who have specialized in obesity medicine. Since his training in internal medicine during his residency, he has been passionate about helping people suffering from obesity. 

He says, “I wish more people knew that obesity is a disease which could be from genetic predisposition or other secondary causes and not lifestyle choices alone.”

So, what exactly is obesity?

Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A body mass index (BMI) greater than 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese.

What causes obesity?

Obesity can be caused by several factors. It’s an imbalance between the amount of energy (calories) one takes in and how much energy that person uses. Obesity is primarily concerned with the regulation of appetite, metabolism, as well as physical activity. The cause of obesity could be because of medications like antipsychotics, antidepressants, diabetes medications, blood pressure medications, oral contraceptives, or antiretroviral therapy. In addition, increased frequency of eating, a high-fat diet, and neuroendocrine causes like hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome, Cushing syndrome, or a genetic condition can cause obesity.  

How do you get screened for obesity?

Your primary care provider may screen for diseases caused by obesity during annual wellness visits because obesity increases one’s chance of suffering from a disease or medical condition. Screenings may include diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia (when blood lipid levels are too high or low), heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, and cancer. The most common measurement used to screen for obesity is Body Mass Index (BMI).

What are treatment options for obesity?

For those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) less than 30, lifestyle interventions such as a combination of diet, exercise, and behavior changes are recommended. Eating right and exercising continue to be important for those struggling to control their weight with a BMI greater than 30, however, medications are available to help treat their obesity. For those with a BMI greater than 30 with co-morbidities such as type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, debilitating arthritis, hypertension, and other diseases, weight loss surgery is an option and is typically recommended for those with a BMI over 35.

If you are struggling with your weight and need support, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider, like Dr. Gurugubelli, to see what options are available.

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