Breland Discusses Diet, Obesity and Chronic Illness

Jessica Breland, a registered dietician and nutritionist with Hattiesburg Clinic Weight Management, recently discussed how diet and obesity affect chronic disease management.

Obesity is a chronic disease that affects 39.1 percent of Mississippians 18 years or older and 23.4 percent of adolescents from ninth to 12th grade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1 This disease could lead to additional chronic conditions such as type two diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, metabolic syndrome, certain reproductive disorders, certain cancers and even premature death. Obesity may even lead to arthritis due to the pressure on joints.

Breland said those with excess body weight may reduce health risks by lowering weight by five to 10 percent. This weight loss will likely lead to a reduction in high blood pressure. Dietary and lifestyle changes will help you meet that goal. Reducing the intake of sugary beverages and adopting a healthy diet can help lower weight and manage conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, liver disease and kidney disease.

“In practice, I highly encourage individuals with kidney, liver and heart disease to follow a plant-based diet,” Breland said. “I encourage them to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables and to decrease the intake of simple sugars and red meat. This way of eating has shown to improve cardiovascular health and better manage body weight.”

Are you consuming the right nutrients? Most people are not consuming adequate amounts of vitamin D or iron, while carbohydrates and fats are consumed in excess. A balanced diet with nutrient-dense foods from the main food groups is the best way to improve your nutritional quality of life. A primary care physician or weight management specialist can help you develop a plan including the nutrients to increase or decrease based on your condition. Breland said a patient who has diabetes or heart disease should increase their intake of lean proteins and dietary fiber and decrease the intake of simple sugars and saturated fats.

Three additional lifestyle factors that can benefit your weight and your overall health status:
  • Routine exercise
  • Reducing your stress levels
  • Improving your sleep quality

Weight Management assesses all factors that can lead to an individual’s obesity and weight status. The physicians and nurse practitioners can intervene on modifiable factors and create a comprehensive plan to help you meet your weight loss goals. For more information, talk to your primary care physician or call (601) 296-2833 to start your weight loss journey.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  2. UCLA Health