Weight plays a role in many diseases, obesity expert says

Written by on March 10, 2022

Weight plays a role in many diseases, obesity expert says

By Brittany Sweeney
March 9, 2022

Dr. Karine Thevenin, an LVHN family physician, is board certified in obesity medicine. (Photo | Brittany Sweeney/WLVR)

Black residents in the Lehigh Valley may be at greater risk for certain health issues like diabetes and stroke.

Dr. Karine Thevenin, a family physician with Lehigh Valley Physicians Group, said rates of obesity may play a factor and she is now making it her mission to shed light on health disparities in communities of color. 

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Data shows some of the health issues that profoundly impact the African American community include high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and now COVID-19. 

All of them can be made worse by obesity, and African American women are at greatest risk, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Thevenin, who was recently board certified in obesity medicine, noted that weight plays a role.  

“If we could control the obesity, we can reduce the risk of developing those other illnesses,” she said. 

There are a number of reasons why minority patients might be more at risk for certain health problems, she added. One is reluctance to seek health care. 

African American patients often tell Thevenin they feel more comfortable with her than with a white doctor.

“Some patients, particularly of color, are afraid or might be concerned, they might not want to come in to see the physician because they might feel that they would be discriminated against, or they might have a stigma behind their medical conditions,” she said.

The first step in lowering these high rates of disease is by connecting people of color with a doctor they feel comfortable with, she said.

Eating healthier and exercising, even for 10 minutes a day, is where she tells her patients to start. 

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