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Best food choices for loosing weight, weightloss

Obesity specialist says food choices are key in weight battle

By Kristi Kastrounis, The Virginian-Pilot (The Clipper) - July 22, 2007

It's summer and it's hot, and most people don't think twice about picking up a large Slurpee while pumping gas at 7-Eleven.

Yet Dr. Margaret Gaglione, who recently opened Tidewater Bariatrics weight loss clinic in Greenbrier, has seen firsthand the damage of unhealthy food choices.

Gaglione said one large Slurpee contains 90 grams of sugar - equivalent to 22 packets of sugar. It's sweet summer drinks like sodas, Slurpees and blended coffees, she said, that contribute to unnecessary calories in children's and teens' diets.

As a physician who specializes in the medical treatment of overweight and obese patients, Gaglione is familiar with the statistics of childhood obesity. Particularly in the summer, when children would rather stay cool inside and play video games or watch TV, the activity levels of young people aren't enough to burn high-calorie fast-food meals and sugary drinks.

"Activities and exercise are important, but what people are eating is even more important," Gaglione said. "Watch what children drink; one 20-ounce soda has 16 packets of sugar."

According to the Mayo Clinic's Web site, the annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about one-third of U.S. children are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight.

Childhood obesity can be attributed to both nature and nurture, Gaglione said. While there are some genetic and hormonal causes of obesity, much of the epidemic can be attributed to children eating too much food and exercising too little.

Parents are a large factor in changing the behaviors of their children and the activity level of the whole family, Gaglione said.

"We get in a rut of not restricting what our children eat," said Gaglione, a River Walk resident who has two children and two step-children ages 8-17.

Parents will restrict how much television their children watch, but they won't tell their kids to eat a banana or apple for a snack, Gaglione said. Proper behaviors are taught, like putting on a seat belt, and most parents are not teaching their children the principle of that's enough, she added.

Parents also can encourage their children to become more active through riding bikes or taking walks as a family, she said.

Throughout her 14 years as an internist at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Gaglione is troubled by how little doctors know about how to treat obesity or document the disease's history. She said most doctors just label it "fat" in the chart and move on, without discussing treatment options or health risks.

Her passion for helping people obtain specialized medical treatment for obesity prompted Gaglione to open a private practice, Tidewater Bariatrics, 12 weeks ago. Gaglione partners with primary care physicians, specialists, bariatric surgeons and family members to provide education on healthy living, nutrition and exercise in order to bring about lifestyles changes.

"Patients can't see treatment as a temporary thing; this is a lifestyle change," she said.

Tidewater Bariatrics staff helps patients, children and adults, lose 40, 60 and even 100 pounds through various programs.

Gaglione's clinic offers classes during the day and night to encourage and educate her patients throughout the weight loss process.

"We are behind when it comes to this epidemic," Gaglione says. "Obesity is a disease, like cancer - it's the unregulated growth of fat cells. The biggest paradigm shift I'm hoping to create is teaching people what to eat."

Big problem
• One in three Americans is obese, not just overweight
• Obesity is the fastest growing disease in the nation.
• In just two decades, the prevalence of overweight children ages 6 to 11 in the U.S. doubled, and tripled for American teenagers


Small solutions
• Eliminate sodas and fruit juices. Give children an apple or an orange instead. Real fruit doesn't contain the high fructose corn syrup that is added to juices.
• Cut out fast-food restaurants.
• Eat breakfast everyday.
• Find ways to incorporate activity in everyday tasks. Have children learn spelling words while jumping jacks, take a walk to talk or ask for push-ups when disciplining instead of putting children in time-out.

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This is the first step in improving your health and lifestyle.

At Tidewater Bariatrics, my staff and I are committed to helping you achieve your weight loss goals.

I am a board certified Bariatrician and Internal Medicine physician. I will tailor a program specific to your needs, time constraints and abilities.

Our program is modeled after successful academic university medical center programs, and is dedicated to decreasing your health risk, improving nutrition, providing health education, and increasing your overall wellness. You can expect to lose weight, improve your cardio-vascular health, and reduce your risk of developing long-term obesity complications.

Even if you already have the complications of obesity, weight loss can decrease or eliminate their effects.

Dr. Margaret Gaglione

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