Play the heavy and you may head for the hospital

No one wants to be hospitalized -- but millions of people are heading there anyway, whether they know it or not.

They're eating their way right into the ER.

We know that people who are fatter tend to be sicker. We know they have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and an early death. And it makes sense that they'd spend more time in the hospital as a result.

And now, a new study shows how every extra pound ups that risk of being hospitalized -- and if this doesn't give you a direct incentive to lose some weight, I don't know what will.

It starts with a single point on the BMI chart -- one point beyond normal and into "overweight." That one point, maybe not even noticeable on the waistline, will increase your risk of being hospitalized by 4 percent.

If you're just a point overweight, it's up to you to decide if you want to live with that risk or drop a few pounds and bring it back down to where it should be. But many people can only dream about being just one point too heavy -- and for them, the increase in risk is even higher, because every point on the BMI chart increases that risk by another 4 percent.

So if you're five points too heavy, your risk of being hospitalized is 20 percent higher -- not small at all. And if you're 10 points over the line, you're 40 percent more likely to end up in the hospital.

The study in the International Journal of Obesity didn't find a single reason for all these extra hospitalizations. More like a list of reasons -- and not coincidentally, it's all the diseases and conditions that tag along with obesity, including diabetes, heart disease, chest pain, asthma, and arthritis.

With two thirds of Americans now overweight or obese, that means a lot of people are going to be hospitalized as some point -- but if there's any good news here, it's that the study points to the easiest way yet to stay out of the hospital: lose the weight.

Some people can commit to lifestyle changes on their own and bring themselves down to a normal weight. Others need help -- and if that's you, don't be afraid to ask for that help. A holistic doctor like me can provide you with a comprehensive and personalized weight loss plan that will work.

And for one way NOT to lose weight, keep reading.