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Obesity and Weight Management

My body is a mystery...

12/01/2008

Question:

I had my gallbladder removed at age 11. Before I`ve had it removed I had very severe stomach pains and was in a lot of pain.I had a couple of questions: Is the gallbladder a necessary a organ to digest food? And another question...I am only 5`1 and 150 lbs but im very athletic. I in the marching band and i exercise everyday. Both of my parents are also overweight. Can a regular teenager be overweight but be healthy? Is being overweight also hereditary??

Answer:

The gallbladder is not necessary for digestion. The gallbladder is a mini storage bin for bile. The bile is made in the liver and pours out after we eat a meal. It helps us make fats more soluble for easy absorption into the blood. The liver makes plenty, even without the gallbladder. So when it becomes swollen or blocked, the surgeon removes the gallbladder without any problems for the patient.

The second half of your question is “yes, depending”. Excess body weight is often a genetic tendency. Body fat is associated with higher rates of health problems. The more body fat, the higher the risk, generally. But some with a high BMI or body mass index may not be in for health trouble. Sometimes the higher BMI and weight is due to muscles not fat. A female softball player or shot put specialist, for example, may be quite muscular. Even with extra body fat, sometimes the health risk is low in the family.

But if you have extra body fat plus a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attacks or strokes, then you need to be more aware of your body fat. A great diet (see ChooseMyPlate.gov and physical fitness with muscle toning can go a long way to fighting back against a family’s genes.

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Response by:

Robert D Murray, MD Robert D Murray, MD
Clinical Professor of Health Behaviors & Health Promotion
Retired Professor of Human Nutrition
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University