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Locals weigh-in on official labeling of obesity as a disease

Posted at 12:14 AM, Jun 20, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - There’s determination in LaCretia Lewis’ steps. She’s on a mission to keep her momentum going. At her heaviest, more than 250 pounds, a breast cancer diagnosis for her mom and aunt gave her the jolt she needed to get serious about her health.

Her before and after pictures tell the story. Lewis lost 75 pounds in the past 13 months.

She started by using a fitness app on her phone to track her food intake and exercise. She also started working hand in hand with her doctor.

“I started making sure I stayed within the calorie allotment and exercised. Whether it was walking, running, dancing around the house with my kids,” Lewis explained.

LaCretia Lewis

Bariatric surgeon Dr. Matthew Brengman said many people struggling with obesity need more help. He’s glad the American Medical Association now cites obesity as a disease.

“It’s really hard to walk in the shoes of an overweight person. No one wants to be 100 pounds overweight, that's a fallacy. They’re fighting genetics, they’re fighting hunger. Our bodies have no mechanism to lose weight," Brengman said.

Brengman said there will now be requirements on training and ongoing medical education for doctors. He adds those doctors will get a comprehensive education on what causes obesity and current treatments and what’s on the horizon.