MEMPHIS, Tennessee — Friday, March 4 is World Obesity Day.
Worldobesityday.org estimates 800 million worldwide are overweight.
Organizers want to spread the word that, "everybody needs to act."
Dr. Virginia Weaver, Clinical Director for Methodist Medical Group's Weight Management and Wellness Center said people need awareness and to understand that obesity is a disease, much like cancer and diabetes.
"It's not simply a bad habit, or the result of one particular thing," said Dr. Weaver. "It is a multi-factorial disease meaning lots of things contribute to it."
Dr. Weaver said obesity has to be treated in multiple different ways - not just changing what you eat.
"That is an important part," said Dr. Weaver. "The most important part about understanding obesity is that many things cause it."
Obesity, according to Worldobesityday.org is caused by a variety of factors, including biology, mental health, genetic risk, environment, healthcare access, and access to ultra-processed food. The organization said it is not due to a lack of willpower.
Man opened their eyes to obesity and its impact on health during the pandemic.
Dr. Weaver said many Mid-southerners reached out to her offices to inquire about weight-loss strategies, including surgery. In fact, the number of requests surged.
The best advice is that if your weight makes you uncomfortable, start a conversation with your doctor. Then make small changes each day to work towards your weight loss goal.
"The key is starting small," said Dr. Weaver. "It's very difficult for people to make huge changes and expect that to stick and stay."
Habits take as little as a month. The key is to make realistic, small changes. Some examples include eliminating beverages that contain sweeteners and sugar, and walking 15 minutes each day.
"Those small changes added up over time make tremendous differences in the long run," said Dr. Weaver. "People who try and do 90 minutes, big, or CrossFit when they've never exercised before, that doesn't work and that doesn't stick."
Medical consequences from obesity will cost over $1 trillion by 2025, according to worldobesityday.org.
The World Obesity Federation said investments in treatment and prevention could reduce those costs.