33 percent of St. Charles Parish adults are considered obese

May 19 at 7:00 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

33 percent of St. Charles Parish adults are considered obese
An estimated 33 percent of St. Charles Parish adults are considered obese, according to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (LDHH).

Statewide, nearly one out of four adult Louisianians are considered obese, ranking the state among the nation’s top five states for both adult and childhood obesity.

“This generation is predicted to not outlive their parents if this trend continues,” said Susan Melancon, owner of Nutrition Rx’d in Boutte.

Melancon said obesity is considered a national problem, contributing to diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and arthritis, all of which can all lead to a shortened life expectancy.

Obesity is defined by BMI (Body Mass Index) or weight based on height. She said anyone with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

“Statistics state that 33 percent of the parish has a BMI of 30 or higher, and it’s not including the percentage of those who are considered overweight,” Melancon said.The overweight range is 25 to 30 BMI, she said.

“They’re not considered obese, but they can still have issues or problems because they are overweight,” she said.

Melancon said there are a myriad of reasons for the high rates of obesity and overweight people in the country, ranging from lack of activity to the fast-paced lifestyle with fewer people cooking fresh meals at home or they go out to eat because they think it’s sometimes cheaper to eat off the dollar menu, but it cost more in the  long run.The South has an issue because it’s known for its food and socialization.

“I’m about developing a healthy lifestyle and to maintaining it the rest of your life,” she said.

Melancon, who advises her clients on how to lose weight, said part of the challenge is learning that losing weight is a lifestyle change, not just a short-term fix.

At the heart of Melancon’s weight loss approach is a program called Ideal Protein, a medically developed weight loss and balanced weight maintenance method.

“As a dietitian, I see a lot of fads out there come and go. ,” she said. “Ideal Protein is clinically proven to help people lose fat and not muscle.”  

Her friend, Holly Faucheaux of Simply Ideal Weight Loss Center in LaPlace, presented the idea of Ideal Protein. She shared some success stories from St. John Parish with Melancon.  “I wanted to bring this to St. Charles Parish and I’ve been able to have some great successes in our community as well.”  

The program includes a wide variety of spicy, sweet and salty gourmet foods that taste great and are easy to prepare. Ideal Protein uses only the highest quality protein products in their line of gourmet weight loss products, because not all protein sources are created equal. This diet protocol was designed for the treatment of obesity and obesity related issues such as high blood pressure, cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes.

“My goal is to help people realize that once you get to your weight objective that you can have that shrimp po-boy, but it’s what you do after that to help maintain that weight,” she said. “Eighty percent of your meals each week need to be good, healthy choices and exercise has to be part of your daily routine.”

Melancon provides nutritional coaching and guidance as a personal weight coach.

She graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1993 in dietetics. About seven years ago, she and her husband Keith relocated to Louisiana and more recently moved to Des Allemands.

“My interest has always been in health and wellness … maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” Melancon said.A client gets one-on-one counseling each week, and then she takes body measurements, body fat percentage and hydration status, also every week.

Melancon works with them to make lifestyle changes that are sustainable.

“You have some clients who come in who only like three vegetables,” she said. “We talk about different ways to prepare things and, if you don’t like this vegetable when you were 10 years old, maybe if it was cooked a different way they would open to trying it.”

She said tastebuds can change.

There are some people who don’t like to cook or don’t want to change menus for husbands or children, but Melancon advises involving the whole family in these changes. The client’s meal can be 8 ounces of protein and two cups of vegetables while the family can cook additional items they desire.

“I think people get overwhelmed if they have to make something for themselves and still be responsible for their kids and/or husbands,” she said.

Melancon concedes losing weight in a state ranking among the top five states nationally for obesity can be challenging.Health care costs related to obesity in 2008 reached $147 billion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Melancon has observed people getting off their medications for cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, as well as see their blood tests improve, with her plan. She said clients have told her that they have regained the energy to play with their kids or grandkids.

The real change comes with a new attitude about the possibility of managing weight for a healthier lifestyle, she said.

Melancon said she provides support for up to a year after a client reaches his or her weight objective, and they can get a “tune up” anytime after finishing the program.

She likes “when they get to their weight objective and have maintained their weight for a while, they, in turn, teach others.”

Losing weight is the main objective when they get in there, but their life and the way they live is what they see when they leave, Melancon said. When they come initially, the just want to lose weight but they realize their life is more important and becomes their goal.

“I care about it because I would love to see people be happier,” Melancon said. “Those who come and see me … the look in their eyes when they first walk in my office and the look they have when they reach their goals is night and day. Their eyes have a sparkle again. They have more life.”  

View other articles written Anna Thibodeaux

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