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Obesity is a disease, not a decision

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Obesity is everywhere you look in the U.S. It affects around 93 million Americans—and the number continues to rise each year. This chronic, complex condition is the second leading cause of preventable death in our country. But we now know that weight isn’t a simple calculation of eating less and moving more. (So can we please, please, please nix that outdated stigma?) 

In fact, since 2013, the American Medical Association (AMA) has recognized obesity as a disease that’s not just the result of personal decisions—it’s one that requires treatment and support. The AMA identified obesity as a public health hazard, upping the risk for multiple diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and cancer. Here’s what the research has to say. 

The science behind your weight

The Centers for Disease Control defines obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater and severe obesity as having a BMI of 40 or higher. Excess weight like this can increase the risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, and certain cancers. 

That’s the medical stuff, but here’s what we’d also like to billboard: Contrary to popular belief, obesity isn’t about a lack of willpower. This outdated, oversimplified thinking is not only wrong from a scientific standpoint, it also ignores other research-based factors. There’s good evidence that genetics, hormones, age, stress, mental well-being, gut health, sleep health, and environmental factors (like endocrine disruptors) can lead to obesity, as well. 

We’ll give you a case in point. You know that friend who never seems to gain weight no matter what she eats? Well, each of us has a different metabolic rate that is largely out of our control. In a comprehensive review published in Comptes Rendus Biologies, multiple studies found that biology might determine your metabolism and predisposition to weight gain and obesity. (And make it more difficult to lose weight, too.) The research has identified several genetic variants in people with obesity that can lead to mutations in genes that are responsible for managing appetite and metabolism like FTO (fat mass obesity associated gene). It’s associated with a 20 to 30% increase in obesity risk. 

Does this mean there’s nothing that you can do? Nope. Your environment, lifestyle, and behavior changes—along with medication, if appropriate—could all make a real difference. 

Found’s approach to weight care

You don’t need us to tell you—because you’re probably living it—that there’s a lot of shame around obesity. We want to change that, and to let you know that the strategies that have historically been touted for weight loss might not be enough. The cause of obesity is different for everyone. It can be inherited, stress-induced, a result of metabolism dysfunction, or even hunger hormones being out of whack. Let’s take leptin, for example. It’s a hormone that signals your brain when you’ve had enough to eat, and helps regulate metabolism. Since fat cells produce leptin, excess weight could result in too-high levels of this hormone and lead to leptin resistance. (Kind of like how elevated blood sugar levels can cause insulin resistance over time.) And that means your brain won’t respond to leptin as it should, and you may not feel full or satiated, and be prone to overeating. 

On top of that, socioeconomic factors and mobility obstacles can limit exercise options, making obesity more of a challenge to overcome. And some communities may have little to no access to healthy foods. Work plays a role too: A desk job or a long commute can cut into your time to move and cook healthy meals at home. And we know that poor nutrition and inadequate exercise are linked to diseases like cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease (which are all common comorbidities of obesity, too). 

Because obesity is so complicated, medication—in addition to lifestyle and behavior changes—can be the missing piece of the puzzle. At Found, we use a comprehensive and science-based approach that treats obesity as a disease, not a result of poor lifestyle choices. That’s why our approach has the power to completely change the way you think about weight loss and health. Instead of following the outdated “calories in versus calories out” model that dominates the market today, we focus on underlying, biological drivers of weight health.

Found offers personalized wellness plans. If eligible, you’ll meet virtually with a licensed medical provider specializing in weight care who will take the time to understand your unique situation and prescribe the right FDA-approved medications for you. All prescriptions will be shipped directly to your door for an affordable monthly fee. In addition to prescriptions, we provide one-on-one health coaching and access to a virtual, supportive community in the Found app where you can connect with other members to find inspiration, accountability, and support while building new, healthy habits and logging your goals to stay on track.

About Found

Found is among the largest medically-supported weight care clinics in the country, serving nearly 200,000 members to date. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.

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