Doctors react to Rio Grande Valley metro area's ranking as most obese city in the country

2 months 1 day 15 hours ago Monday, March 27 2023 Mar 27, 2023 March 27, 2023 10:46 AM March 27, 2023 in News - Local

The McAllen, Edinburg and Mission metro area is ranked as the fattest cities in America, according to a new Wallethub study.

"We don't have the choice of healthy meals, and we tend to go for processed foods," South Texas Health System Bariatric surgery Specialist Dr. Luis Reyes said.

Not only is this affecting adults, but Dr. Reyes says there is a rise of child obesity in the Valley as well.

"We have to get the parents not to see the overweight of the children to be 'oh, he's just a little chunky' or whatever, no, there is a problem," Dr. Reyes said.

Child obesity can develop into adult obesity. If it's not addressed, Dr. Reyes says the disease puts a person at higher risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and cancer.

"If one parent is obese, 50% of the time the children are going to have the chance to be obese," Dr. Reyes said. "If two parents are obese, there's an 80% of a chance of the kid's going to also be obese," Dr. Reyes said.

DHR Health has seen a 7% increase in weight loss surgeries from 2021 to 2022. The increase goes hand in hand with a change in the severity of the cases.

"So not only number of patients rises, but also the actual BMI, the body mass index. We see patients with the body max index over 80. Very, very high obesity," DHR Health bariatric Surgeon Dr. Tomasz Rogula said. 

"We live in an area where we love food. It's part of our culture, but how do we start to really empower families just to make better choices," Dietition Dr. Andie Gonzalez said.

Experts agree — making better food choices is key to avoiding obesity

Dr. González recommends eating at least 2 to 3 cups of vegetables daily.

"I always encourage family...if you have a flea market, that's close to you, that's a great avenue for you to be able to get food and vegetables at an affordable price," Dr. Gonzalez said.

An easy way to start a healthier diet is going to your local food market, getting your own food, cooking it at home and then just simply taking it, putting it into a bunch of containers and meal prepping. 

A healthier lifestyle does not just stop in the kitchen, being active also plays a role

Watch the video above for the full story.

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