Obesity: A big problem
Jul 01, 2007
Here's the real question: Why aren't we talking about it? Every veterinarian and healthcare professional knows the story by heart. We eat too much. We feed our pets too much food. We all get fat. We become sick and arthritic and develop other weight-associated conditions and then undergo expensive medical treatments.
Obesity in people is a huge problem, of course. The American Medical Association estimates that 300,000 people die each year in the United States because of poor diet and physical inactivity, both of which contribute to obesity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculates that obesity-related problems cost our economy more than $75 billion each year. And our pets are suffering a similar fate. Roughly 40 percent to 55 percent are classified as overweight, and one-third to one-half of those are obese.
It's time to speak out
The first step in improving pets' health and ending this epidemic is to talk about it. Why don't we?
Let's consider human medicine. In a 2004 study, more than 50 percent of obese people who did not undergo bariatric surgery reported that their primary care physician "never" or only "once in a while" discussed their morbid obesity with them. One reason physicians fail to counsel patients on obesity may be doctors' distrust of the available treatments. They see lots of weight loss options and lots of overweight patients; one doesn't seem to make an impact on the other. Physicians are unlikely to discuss weight loss plans that don't appear to work.
It's no different for veterinarians. We see lots of overweight pets and lots of diet foods and treatments, yet the number of fat pets keeps growing. So we don't talk about it.