Obesity is a chronic health problem in the United States and the rest of the world. In the US alone, more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight, and at least one third are considered obese.
According to Dr. Maher El Chaar, Fellowship Director of Bariatric Surgery at St Luke’s University Hospital and Health Network in Pennsylvania, obesity is a pandemic that is much worse than the COVID19 pandemic. Obesity can lead to many health issues called obesity-related conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, heart disease, and others. In addition, patients who suffer from obesity are usually less productive because of physical limitations.
“Obesity direct costs are related to costs of treating patients with obesity and obesity-related conditions whereas indirect costs are due to loss of productivity because of absenteeism,” said Dr. El Chaar when asked about the economic impact of obesity.
It’s estimated that obesity-related costs are a staggering $190 billion or 21% of annual medical spending!
As a clinician and researcher, Dr. Maher El Chaar, a bariatric surgeon recently named as one of America’s Top Surgeons, decided to change his approach and take on obesity using social media.
“Over the years and after performing thousands of bariatric operations, I realized that in order to have a long-lasting impact on patient’s lives and health, we as bariatric surgeons need to take the fight to the general public and educate our patients about how to stay healthy and active and avoid obesity and social media is a very powerful tool to do just that” said Dr. El Chaar when asked about social media.
According to Dr. El Chaar, patients who suffer from obesity live in a toxic environment and are constantly bombarded by food advertisements, and it’s extremely difficult for them to make the right choices when they are surrounded by so much misinformation about the benefits of packaged food items and other unhealthy food additives.
“Staying healthy and fit and avoiding weight gain in our current days takes a lot of effort and a lot of planning. Patients have to make a conscious effort to eat healthily and avoid making bad choices, and that is not easy,” said Dr. El Chaar.
Many physicians, life coaches, dietitians, and other health care providers are using their social media platforms to fight obesity and make their voices heard, and Dr. El Chaar is no exception.
Health care influencers, as some of those providers are being called, are utilizing videos, pictures, illustrations, and even funny sketches to convey all the appropriate and relevant medical information in an easy and digestible fashion to the public in order to make sure people are getting the appropriate care and encourage healthy eating and active lifestyle.
“I want to thank all of my colleagues, whether surgeons or others, for working tirelessly to fight obesity by providing the right information and appropriate guidance for their patients using Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets. You are the true influencers because of the huge positive impact you have on your patient’s lives” said Dr. El Chaar when asked about healthcare influencers.If you want to learn more about Maher El Chaar, you can visit his profile at the St. Luke’s University Hospital and Health Network website. You can also check out his Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages for more information.