The best medicine

In my Aiken Standard Health & Fitness column last week I wrote about recent research that supports the use of obesity surgery, specifically gastric bypass surgery, for treating diabetes and other chronic conditions. It turns out that the surgery has beneficial health effects beyond weight loss. For some people, gastric bypass surgery may a reasonable option, especially if they have serious health conditions.

In my column this week I explain that surgery is not the only option and shouldn’t be the first choice for treatment. Since for almost everyone obesity is a lifestyle disease, it should be treated with lifestyle modification. Even if surgery is used, changing diet and activity habits is essential for maintaining weight loss. You can apply the same logic to medications used to control cholesterol and blood pressure. In most cases, diet and exercise would be sufficient on their own. But even if a drug is used, lifestyle modification is still an important part of the treatment. This is especially true considering the potentially serious side effects of many medications. Recent research suggests that some commonly used drugs to lower cholesterol (statins) can cause muscle damage and cognitive impairment.

Diet and exercise really are the best medicine!

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