“We can talk while I ride the exercise bike,” he says into the phone. “I do at least 30 minutes a day.”

It just didn’t make sense to Roger Yockey. How could he be so overweight when the people that he and his wife were meeting on volunteer missions around the world had so very little?

“Marilyn and I have done a lot of volunteer work in Central America, Portugal, the Caribbean, and the United States. We usually work with children who may have been abandoned or have special needs that cannot be met by families because they are very poor,” says Roger.

“I have photographs next to where I eat and next to where I watch TV of a child who has this look on his face like ‘What am I going to eat? Where am I going to sleep? Where am I going to live?’ I tell myself, ‘Roger, why should you be overweight, grossly so, when so many people are starving, especially children?”

Roger’s a little bit out of breath right about now. “We can talk while I ride the exercise bike,” he says into the phone. “I do at least 30 minutes a day.”

Roger Yockey, and his wife, Marilyn, both 78, moved to Yakima from Seattle when they retired. They wanted to be closer to the grandkids. Roger was a journalist and a journalism teacher at Seattle University. He also worked in communications for labor unions and in community organizing. Roger also ran a micro loan program for women, people of color and displaced workers.

As the Yockeys grew older, their waistlines grew larger. Roger went to the doctor. “Thanks to a wonderful physician at Virginia Mason Memorial, Dr. Silvia Labes (a primary care provider at Memorial Cornerstone Medicine) she saw indications that I was pre-diabetic and recommended the program.”

Roger is referring to Memorial’s Diabetes Prevention Program, a year-long series that teaches participants how to incorporate a healthy diet and exercise into their lives. The result is . . . well, as Roger says, “when I first went in I was what they call ‘morbidly obese.’ I weighed in at 295 pounds and I’m 5-feet, 9- inches tall.

“But somewhere along the way through the program I was told not only was I not diabetic, I was not even pre-diabetic. I weigh now about what I did when I was married and in the Marine Corps Reserve, 192. I went from a size 52 waist to a 40.”

For Roger, having his wife as his partner in the program made all the difference. “The two important things for us: It really helps if you have a partner. Marilyn and I tracked what we ate with a focus on calories and fat. That’s our guide. And the group sessions, you’re talking to other people and they’re telling you what their experiences have been. And then you weigh in.

Marilyn, who’s lost about 65 pounds, walks at least 30 minutes a day, rides the bike for 30 and goes to aerobics class twice each week.

The Yockeys, who have shed about 168 pounds between them, are Diabetes Prevention Program graduates now. But they still show up to weigh in, because, like with everything, there are always challenges.  “Eating out is a problem,” says Roger. “Red Robin and Red Lobster are great for working with you on dietary restrictions. The wonderful thing about the Café at Virginia Mason Memorial is they list the calories in the entrees, and I think the food there is just delicious.”

Temptation is everywhere. But the Yockeys are knowledgeable and prepared. “I love coffee and a cookie with it,” says Roger. “So I pick out a cookie that’s pretty low in fat and calories, and I just eat one.

“Last July we went to Guatemala for a week, and we’re already investigating where we’re going this year. Thanks to Marilyn, a cane and God, I make it. I just wish I had done this years ago.”

Poll: Many adults recognize being overweight but aren’t taking action

12 30 15 tape measureDec. 30, 2015—Many adults who think they’re overweight say they’d like to drop the pounds, according to a recent Gallup poll. But the results also showed that most are not making real efforts to lose weight.

Packing extra pounds carries some pretty serious health consequences. Among other problems, it brings an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

About the poll

Between 2011 and 2015, Gallup gathered information from nearly 5,000 adults from across the U.S. with a telephone survey.

According to the 2015 poll results:

  • On average, adults weighed more than they wanted to. Adults shared what they thought their ideal weight to be: on average, 183 pounds for men and 139 for women. In reality, the average self-reported actual weight was 196 pounds for men and 155 pounds for women.
  • 31 percent of adults thought they weighed at least 20 pounds too much. Of these, 90 percent said they want to lose weight. But just 48 percent said they are seriously trying to lose weight.

Combining averages from all years:

  • Less than a fifth of adults were at their ideal weight. Only 18 percent of adults reported being at their ideal weight. But overall, 48 percent said they were at or within 10 pounds of their perceived ideal.

Based on the last 5 years of the survey, many adults think they are overweight. But the number of people who are doing something about it has not been increasing during this time period, the pollsters reported.

No recommendations or medical observations came from the poll. However, it does suggest that many Americans aren’t managing their weight the way they’d like to.

The take-home message
Obesity is one of the leading causes of preventable death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And more than a third of American adults are now obese.

For those who need to lose pounds, a loss of just 5 to 10 percent of their starting weight can be a big health boost, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Reaching a healthy weight lowers the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

Are you overweight—or obese? There’s no time like the present to begin a healthy journey toward weight management. Work with a healthcare provider to set small, specific goals that can add up to big benefits over time. For example, an attainable goal might be “walk 30 minutes a day on 5 days each week.”

Check out our Weight Management health topic center to learn more about reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.


Obese kids likely to stay obese in high school

Nov. 14, 2014—Want to know if your children will have weight problems in high school? Their weight in 5th grade could offer a good clue, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers found that kids who were overweight or obese in 5th grade tended to be overweight or obese in 10th grade as well.

About the study

Researchers measured the body mass indexes (BMIs) of nearly 4,000 children when they were in 5th grade and again in 10th grade. They also measured the BMI of one parent per child at the same time. They found that:

  • 65 percent of obese 5th-graders remained obese in 10th grade.
  • Among all 5th-graders, those who were overweight were the most likely to become obese in high school. And 14 percent of overweight 5th-graders became obese by 10th grade.
  • 87 percent of children who were at a normal weight in 5th grade remained at a normal weight in 10th grade.

Researchers also interviewed children and their parents to determine factors that could potentially play a role in obesity. They found that 5th graders who were overweight were more likely to become obese if they watched too much television or had an obese parent.

Researchers noted that these findings reinforce the idea that childhood obesity should be addressed early, since younger children tend to be more receptive to healthy interventions than older ones.

To learn more, read the study at the journal’s website.

The take-home message
Childhood obesity is the top health concern among U.S. parents, and for good reason. The American Heart Association says overweight kids have an 80 percent chance of staying overweight for their entire lives, putting them at risk for negative long-term health problems like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and osteoarthritis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a BMI calculator specifically designed to measure the BMIs of children ages 2 through 19. If your child is overweight or obese, there are several ways you can help him or her achieve a healthier weight:

  • Control portions. Teach your child to focus on fullness rather than encouraging a clean plate.
  • Get moving. Encourage fun family activities like hiking or bicycling.
  • Limit screen time to 2 hours per day. Keep TVs and computers out of your child’s bedroom, and discourage snacking while watching TV.
  • Emphasize sleep. Research has found a connection between poor sleep habits and obesity. Children and teens need at least 9 hours of sleep per night.
  • Serve nutritious foods. Make healthy fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy everyday staples. Save fried foods, sugary snacks, or soft drinks for occasional treats. Having meals together as a family can also help children maintain a healthy weight.


Family meals may help kids keep from packing on pounds

fam dinnerNov. 8, 2014—Healthy weight management in children isn’t just about what kids eat. A new study in the Journal of Pediatrics suggests how they eat also may play a role in preventing obesity.

The study suggests that eating together as a family can help keep kids’ weight in check. With parents searching for solutions to fight childhood obesity—a problem affecting nearly 13 million children between the ages of 2 and 19—family meals may be a welcome strategy to prevent adulthood obesity and the many health problems that can come with it.

About the study

Researchers surveyed 2,117 people while they were in middle and high school and again 10 years later to evaluate their eating habits and their body mass indexes (BMI)—a estimate of body fat based on height and weight.

They found even those who reported just 1 or 2 weekly family meals were 45 percent less likely to be overweight after the 10-year period compared to those who reported never eating together.

In the initial survey,15 percent of the participants reported that they never ate meals together with their families. Among these individuals, 60 percent were overweight at the 10-year point and 29 percent were obese.

However, of those who initially reported that they ate 1 or more family meals together, 47 percent to 51 percent were overweight 10 years later and 19 percent to 22 percent were obese. There was a stronger positive effect on weight management among black participants than among white participants.

Other studies have showed that eating meals together as a family may lessen the risk that adolescents will become overweight. This study supports those findings and suggests the positive effect may carry over even into adulthood.

Although the study didn’t evaluate why family meals are beneficial, researchers theorized that it may be because they tend to involve healthier foods, provide opportunities for building emotional connections among family members and give kids a chance to observe healthy eating behaviors in their parents.

To learn more, view the full study at the journal’s website.

The take-home message
You may help your children better manage their weight by making family meals a priority. And they can happen at any meal—not just dinner. If that time of day is too busy for your family, try family breakfasts, or have lunch together on the weekends.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that parents serve reasonably sized portions of nutritious foods, including:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Healthy proteins, such as lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs and beans
  • Low-fat dairy products

It may also be worthwhile to involve children in planning menus and grocery shopping trips. You may even consider planting a garden—it can help kids learn about good nutrition and provide an opportunity for physical activity, another essential element for keeping weight down.


When given the choice, teens don’t want to walk 5 miles for a sugary soda

Nov. 4, 2014—If you saw a sign that said you’d have to walk 5 miles to burn off the calories in a single regular soda, would you:

A. Lace up your walking shoes?

B. Swap the sugary drink for a low-or no-calorie alternative?

If you were a teenager, such a sign might motivate you to choose option B, according to a study from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health published in the American Journal of Public Health.

About the study

Between August 2012 and June 2013, researchers posted signs in 6 corner stores in predominantly black neighborhoods in Baltimore, Maryland. The study focused on black teens and reported that they’re among the heaviest consumers of sugary beverages and have a higher risk of obesity.

Each brightly colored, 8.5-by-11-inch sign presented, in question form, 1 of 4 facts about 20-ounce sugar-sweetened beverages:

  • Did you know that a bottle of soda or fruit juice has about 250 calories?
  • Did you know that a bottle of soda or fruit juice has about 16 teaspoons of sugar?
  • Did you know that working off the calories in a bottle of soda or fruit juice takes about 50 minutes of running?
  • Did you know that working off the calories in a bottle of soda or fruit juice takes about 5 miles of walking?

During the study period, adolescents between 12 and 18 purchased 3,098 drinks in the stores with the signs. When researchers asked a quarter of those young people about the signs, 35 percent said they saw the signs. Of those who saw the signs:

  • 59 percent said they believed the signs.
  • 40 percent said they changed their behavior because of the signs, either buying a drink with fewer or no calories, a smaller-sized drink, or no drink at all.

Even after the signs were gone, teens kept making healthier choices than before the signs were posted.

The take-home message
Though the study focused on black teens, the findings may help a larger demographic: Simple strategies such as posting the calories-in, calories-out equation can help motivate kids to choose healthier food and drinks.

From sodas and fruit smoothies to lattes and sports drinks, sugar-sweetened beverages are contributing to adolescent obesity.

Until stores join the campaign to address childhood obesity by posting informational signs like those used in the study, it’s up to parents to take action. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends keeping sugar-sweetened drinks out of the home and stocking the refrigerator with cold water to encourage healthy beverage choices.


Register now for our upcoming Diabetes Prevention classes

Diabetes Prevention Classes

* There is room in our weekly Monday (1-2pm) and Tuesday (10-11am) classes beginning on October 27th and October 28th. Registration is required by calling 249-5317. Read below to find out more about this program.*

Prediabetes is a condition where the blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Memorial’s prevention program helps people lower their risk of type 2 diabetes. Participants meet in groups with a trained lifestyle coach for 16 weekly, one-hour sessions and seven monthly follow up sessions. If you would like to learn more about this program, you can attend an orientation on the last Monday of each month from 4-4:30 p.m. at Memorial’s Community Education Center at 2506 W. Nob Hill Blvd. No registration is necessary for the orientation.

How do I know this program is for me?

• Are you an overweight adult?

• Do you have family members with diabetes?

• Have you had gestational diabetes during pregnancy or did any of your babies weigh 9 lbs or more at birth?

• Have you ever been told you have high blood sugar, prediabetes, or borderline diabetes?

If you answered yes to any of these, you may be at risk for type 2 diabetes.


Waistlines keep expanding, even as obesity rates hold steady

Oct. 4, 2014—The waistlines of American adults are expanding, according to data published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and colleagues.

That may help the bottom lines of companies that make pants and skirts with elastic waists. But it’s bad news for the country’s health, because it suggests that the number of Americans with metabolic syndrome won’t be falling anytime soon.

Despite the fact that obesity rates in the United States have stopped climbing, the fat stored around our waists, stomachs and abdomens has increased.

Why abdominal fat is important

The researchers used waistline circumference as a measure of abdominal fat. Men whose waistlines were over 40.2 inches and women whose waistlines were over 34.6 inches were classified as having abdominal obesity.

Abdominal obesity is one of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome—a cluster of conditions that make you vulnerable to serious health problems.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), those who have metabolic syndrome are about twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to get type 2 diabetes as someone without the syndrome. Metabolic syndrome also increases risk for stroke.

About the measurements

The researchers looked at waistline measurements of 32,816 adults that were recorded during seven separate National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 1999 through 2012. The study included data from men and nonpregnant women age 20 and older.

Waistlines grew steadily over those 14 years. Some of the more significant increases were seen in women, non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks and Mexican Americans. On average, the waistlines in these groups increased an average of 1.5 inches.

The study found that, overall, the number of adults with abdominal obesity jumped from 46.4 percent of adults to 54.2 percent. The study was published as a research letter in the Sept. 17 issue of JAMA and can be accessed online.

The take-home message
Weight gain that occurs around the abdomen area could indicate abdominal obesity—a growing problem among American adults. As noted by the NHLBI, abdominal obesity is a risk factor of metabolic syndrome. To be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, a person must have at least three of the following risk factors:

  • A large waistline
  • High triglyceride levels—a type of fat found within the blood
  • A low level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL)—the good cholesterol—in the blood
  • High blood pressure
  • High fasting blood sugar

According to the NHLBI, metabolic syndrome could replace smoking as the leading risk factor for heart disease.

To help prevent or control metabolic syndrome, it is important to talk to your doctor if you have experienced a growing waistline. If your doctor has advised you to lose weight, ask him or her about proven strategies for weight loss.

Learn some steps that can help set you on the path to success here.


Many overweight and obese kids think they’re at a healthy weight

Aug. 18, 2014—When overweight kids check themselves out in the mirror, what do they see?

A significant percentage of them believe they’re seeing a person of healthy weight, according to an analysis published in a National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Data Brief. But unlike the distortion in a carnival fun-house mirror, real-world body-size misperception isn’t harmless: It may actually keep kids from reaching a healthy weight.

About the analysis

Every year, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducts in-home interviews and mobile clinic exams to collect information about the health of a sampling of about 5,000 people in the U.S. To analyze how kids perceive their own body weight, researchers looked at NHANES data from 2005 through 2012 for children and adolescents aged 8 to 15.

Researchers found that:

  • About 30 percent of children and adolescents misperceive their weight status. In other words, the way they see themselves doesn’t match their actual weight.
  • About 81 percent of overweight boys and 71 percent of overweight girls believe they’re about the right weight. Health care professionals consider kids overweight if their body mass index (BMI) is between the 85th and 94th percentile on the growth charts for their age and sex.
  • Among obese children, 48 percent of the boys and 36 percent of the girls believe their weight is about right. Kids are considered obese if their BMI is at or above the 95th percentile for their age and sex.

Read the entire report here.

The take-home message
Obesity is a medical condition that’s on the rise among young people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And yet, this report suggests that many kids just don’t realize that they have a weight problem, and that might mean they’re not motivated to take steps to reach a healthy weight.

Your family pediatrician is the best person to assess your child’s weight. If your son or daughter’s BMI is in the overweight or obese category as measured by the pediatrician, it’s time to take notice. Chances are your child isn’t simply big-boned. Your child might need your help in order to pull together a plan that could lead to a healthier life.

According to CDC, childhood obesity happens when kids eat too many calories and don’t exercise enough. To help your child find a healthy balance between calories in and calories out:


  • Serve plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Limit foods that are high in fats and sugars
  • Swap sugary drinks like chocolate milk and fruit juice for water
  • Limit screen time to no more than one to two hours a day. The more time kids spend texting, watching TV or playing video games, the less time they have for getting the hour or more of physical activity they need each and every day.

To find out more about how excess weight could be dangerous for your child, and for you, click here.


Portion warning: Dish it up and you’re likely to gobble it down

Aug. 10, 2014—If you put food on your plate, there’s a good chance you’re going to eat it—nearly every last bite of it, in fact.

That’s the finding of a study in the International Journal of Obesity. And in a nation where more than 1 in 3 people is obese, it’s likely to capture the attention of health experts.

Since consuming more calories than you burn off is a habit that can lead to weight gain, the findings suggest that helping people be more mindful of portion sizes might improve weight control.

About the study

The study involved 1,179 people in seven different countries—the United States, Canada, France, Taiwan, Korea, Finland and the Netherlands. Researchers gauged the percentage of food people ate when they served themselves and also noted whether certain situations led them to eat more or less.

They found that, on average, adults ate about 92 percent of the food they placed on their plates. And those findings were consistent in all of the countries studied.

However, the 326 participants who were younger than 18 ate just 59 percent of the food they served themselves. Researchers said that might be because children are less certain than adults about whether they’ll like a particular food. They might dish the food up and then decide to leave the food behind when they dislike the few bites they take.

Additionally, researchers found:

  • When people were distracted, they ate less—about 89 percent of what was served, compared to about 97 percent of the food they ate when they were not distracted.
  • People ate more of what they served themselves for meals—92.8 percent—than for snacks—76.1 percent.

You can read an abstract of the study here.

The take-home message
What you put on your plate is likely to end up in your stomach—and quite possibly on your bathroom scale. Simply knowing that, and limiting what you serve yourself, may help your weight-control efforts.

When it comes to limiting what you eat, these tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics may be helpful:

  • Use smaller plates and dishes—since they hold less food, you may eat fewer calories. And do use plates and dishes, rather than eating from a box or bag. It’s easier to keep portions in check.
  • Eat meals slowly—over 20 to 30 minutes. That may enable you to recognize when you’re full and then stop eating.
  • Remember, it’s OK to leave food behind—even if you’re a longtime member of the clean-plate club.

For more information about the subtle mistakes you might be making that could lead to an ever-expanding waistline, click here.


Life-spans shrink as Americans get fatter, researchers say

July 28, 2014—Common sense tells you that being on the high end of the obesity scale isn’t exactly healthy. Now, researchers have a rather stark statistic to back that up: Extremely obese people die 6.5 to 13.7 years earlier than people of normal weight.

The large, three-decades-long study focused on people with class 3 obesity—people with a BMI (body mass index) greater than 40. For a person of average height, that’s about 100 pounds over the recommended weight. The changes in death rate for people in this group were mostly due to heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The risk of dying from these and other causes rose continuously as study participants’ BMI went up, researchers said.

About the study

BMI is a calculation that uses height and weight to estimate a person’s overall body fat. A normal BMI ranges from 18.5 to 24.9. Obesity begins at 30.0; class 3 obesity begins at 40.0.

Researchers analyzed data from 20 previous studies to determine the risk of premature death for 304,011 people of normal BMI and 9,564 people with class 3 obesity.

Researchers did not include anyone who had ever smoked or who had a history of heart disease, cancer, stroke or emphysema.

The findings

Among other things, researchers discovered higher death rates among the extremely obese. (Death rates are defined as deaths per 100,000 people per year.)

•For the extremely obese, the death rate was 856 for men and 663 for women.
•For people with normal BMI, the death rate was only about 347 for men and about 280 for women.
Compared to people with normal BMI, those with class 3 obesity also died earlier, losing between 6.5 and 13.7 years of life.

Read the full study here.

The take-home message

Weight loss can seem daunting, especially if you need to lose 100 pounds to reach a normal BMI. While the journey may be long—and a little overwhelming—experts say it’s important to get started. Even losing a little weight can help.

To begin:

•Improve your diet. Keeping track of everything you eat is a good place to start. Then, a dietitian can help you develop a meal plan that could help you lose a pound or two each week.
•Stay active. If you’re already doing some exercise, stick with it. But if you’re not exercising at all or you want to kick up the intensity, talk with your doctor first. Don’t increase your activity level without your doctor’s OK.
•Get support. Talking with others can keep your weight-loss program on track. Group sessions or one-on-one consultations may give you the boost you need.
•Ask about medications. Some people lose additional weight when certain prescription medications are part of their overall plan. Your doctor can help you decide if medications are an option.
•Consider surgery. If diet, exercise and medications aren’t working, ask your doctor if you’re a candidate for weight-loss surgery. Be sure to discuss all of the potential risks and benefits before you decide on surgery.
If you’re not quite sure that your weight qualifies as obese, this BMI calculator may help. Use it to find your BMI, and talk to your doctor about your results at your next appointment.