Medical Treatment of Obesity
work best when they are individualized and customized for each patient. Specific treatment for obesity will be determined by your physician based on:
- Your age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent of overweight or obesity
- Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the condition
- Your opinion or preference
Nonsurgical interventions are always attempted prior to discussing surgery for treatment of obesity. Patients who don’t meet surgical stipulations or who prefer not to have surgery may benefit from medical weight loss.
Treatment by a physician may be necessary when an individual’s own efforts to lose weight have failed and/or when co-existing medical conditions make it crucial for a person to lose weight. Most of the medically supervised or comprehensive weight loss programs will incorporate diet, behavior modification and exercise. Some use very low calorie diets and/or supplements and medication.
offered include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Medical diets are customized programs, which are supervised by doctors, with the goal of greatly restricting calorie intake while still maintaining nutrition. Medically supervised diets may be supplemented with medication to insure the patient is still getting the necessary amount of nutrients and vitamins.
• Prescription medications can assist with weight loss goals when other measures such as dieting and lifestyle changes have failed to produce acceptable weight loss results. While no medication can work miracles, it may help a person to achieve modest weight loss that can contribute to improved health.
• Supplements may promise to help burn fat faster or reduce hunger. Some supplements, however, may have side effects that can be dangerous. While there is no supplement that can take the place of eating a healthy diet, a multivitamin taken daily can help close the nutritional gap. However, vitamin supplements do not produce weight loss.
• Exercise programs can be intimidating for someone suffering from morbid obesity. Exercise improves the cardiovascular system, builds muscle mass, accelerates the metabolism and burns fat.
• Support groups are a great source of encouragement and reinforcement for a patient’s efforts and help by increasing success in changing lifestyle behaviors. There are also online communities that can help provide support and information to strengthen efforts to lose weight and make lifestyle changes.
• Psychotherapy is a tool for manipulating eating habits and portion control. It can also address some of the underlying issues of depression through behavioral modification.
• Behavior modification is possibly the most important change an individual needs to undergo in order to successfully lose weight. Over the long term, most obese adults who lose weight will return to their baseline weight if ongoing behavioral strategies are not used. One behavioral strategy that may be useful is keeping a food journal of when, where, and what food was eaten, when hunger occurred and the feelings and emotions that were present when eating. This technique helps to identify behaviors and activities that need to be modified. A counselor may be helpful with cognitive techniques that may be used to help change a person’s thinking about body image.
All weight loss options should be discussed thoroughly with your physician. It is important to note that if diet, exercise, and behavior modification have previously failed to produce weight loss and surgical intervention is the next option, diet, exercise and behavior modification will be instrumental in maintaining weight loss after surgery. Surgery is only a tool, and no method will be successful without full cooperation and commitment on behalf of the patient.