It is unknown if James Gandolfini had previously been diagnosed with heart disease, but it does appear that his weight and diet may have placed him at risk.When I heard the news of the actor’s death, I must admit that I was both shocked and saddened. (Risk of developing heart disease increases if you are overweight or obese).He was immensely talented and his unforgettable portrayal of the character Tony Soprano will, in my opinion, go down in pop culture history as iconic. The autopsy confirmed initial reports that the actor suffered a massive heart attack.
As the initial shock of Gandolfini’s death subsided, my mind began to race as my thoughts about the actor’s death quickly transitioned to thoughts about the death of journalist Tim Russert (Russert also died of a massive heart attack), Americans’ eating habits, the prevalence of heart disease in the United States, and my own family members’ risk of developing the disease. But ultimately, I began to wonder whether or not anyone in Gandolfini’s family had ever discussed their concern about his weight with him. I even asked myself how, or even if, I would approach my own family member about being grossly overweight. Speaking to people about their weight can be a sensitive subject and I would never want to offend a family member. However, given the extent of serious medical problems that can develop as a result of one being obese, I think it is a subject that I would be compelled to discuss with a family member if necessary.
Though speaking to anyone about their weight or health can be a sensitive subject, it can be done, and here are a few simple strategies to consider:
- According to nurse educator Kimberly Dellafosse, RN, C,CPUR, when speaking to someone about their weight, try to keep the focus on their overall health as opposed to only addressing weight.
- You can invite them to join you for a walk at the park, recreational center, etc. Make sure that you do not utilize this time to demonstrate how fast you can walk. This may intimidate or discourage them. Remember, your goal is to get them active.
- Ask them if it is okay to occasionally email them healthy recipes or fitness tips.
- If you are involved in some type of running or walking group, invite them to join.
- Arrange a time to sit down in a private setting to discuss your genuine concern with the person.
One in four Americans die each year as a result of heart disease. If you have a family member, friend, etc. whose weight appears to place them at risk, expressing your concern and your willingness to help does not make you “nosey” or intrusive. In most cases, it simply means that you honestly care about the person’s well-being and you are willing to do what you can to help. For more information about heart disease, its risk factors and ways to prevent the disease, visit the Center for Disease Control’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/.
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