Obesity is a growing health problem, with nearly 1 in 3 adults considered overweight and more than 2 in 5 adults being obese. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends clinicians screen all adults for obesity and offer help with changing behaviors for those who are affected.
The first line of treatment for obesity is lifestyle change – a combination of diet, exercise, and behavior therapy.
What is Obesity?
A person is considered overweight or obese if their weight is higher than what is considered normal for their height.
Body mass index (BMI) is commonly used to determine obesity, but it has limitations in predicting excess body fat. Waist circumference is a more practical measure, with cut points of 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women to assess individual health risk.
A number of factors are known to contribute to excess weight gain. These are:
- Food and drink choices
- Physical activity
- Sedentary behaviors
- Sleep habits
- Medical conditions
- Access to healthy foods
- Safe places to be active
Risks of Excess Weight
Obesity is a complex and chronic condition. It increases the risk for many health problems, such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Some types of cancer
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends starting with lifestyle modification, which involves changes in dietary intake and physical activity.
Comprehensive weight loss programs usually include these components, but the mode of delivery, setting, and implementation strategies may vary.Healthcare practitioners play an important role in helping patients make long-term changes to their eating and physical activity behaviors.
A thorough understanding of the physiology of weight loss and weight gain, as well as the use of behavior therapy, can improve the chances of success in treating obesity.
The Promise and Challenge of Lifestyle Enhancement
Lifestyle modification is the first line of therapy for weight management. This involves a program of diet, exercise, and behavior therapy. When implemented successfully, lifestyle changes have the potential to result in significant weight loss. For instance, according to a study by the National Weight Control Registry, people who lost weight and kept it off for at least a year lost an average of 13% of their starting weight.
Not only can lifestyle modifications lead to weight loss, but they can also improve overall health. By making changes to eating habits and increasing physical activity, people can see improvements in important health markers like:
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar levels
Challenge 1: Accurately Tracking Progress
One of the main challenges in treating obesity with lifestyle modifications is accurately tracking progress.
Obese individuals are often found to underestimate the amount of food they eat and overestimate the amount of physical activity they engage in by up to 50%. This makes it difficult for practitioners to accurately gauge the effectiveness of lifestyle modifications.
To overcome this challenge, patients are taught to keep records of their food intake, physical activity, and weight, which helps practitioners monitor progress and make adjustments, as needed.
Challenge 2: Old Habits Die Hard
Another challenge is the tendency for patients to revert back to their old habits. The body has a natural resistance to weight loss, and changes in fat, gut, and neural signals regulate appetite and metabolism, making it difficult for patients to maintain their weight loss in the long term.
Qualified practitioners must help patients develop long-term changes in eating and physical activity behaviors. This can include teaching patients:
- How to control their eating environments
- How to limit exposure to cues that prompt overeating
- How to use positive reinforcements for healthy eating and physical activity
Challenge 3: Potential Harm of Weight Loss
A final challenge is the potential harm of weight loss itself. While weight loss can improve overall health, it can also lead to the following in patients taking medication:
- Low blood sugar
- Low blood pressure
- Decreased muscle mass and frailty in older individuals
Practitioners can carefully monitor patients and make adjustments as needed to minimize these potential harms.
Obesity Treatment in Kennesaw, GA
If you’re having trouble losing or managing your weight, you may need to seek professional help.Here at DR. ROBERT E. LENDING, a board-certified family practice physician can help you achieve the best possible results. Rest assured you’re in good hands, as Dr. Robert Lending has more than 20 years of experience.