In 2013, the American Medical Association recognized that obesity is a disease. In fact, obesity is a serious chronic medical disease, similar to high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. What this means is that is that in most cases, self-treatment is ineffective. Attempts to control weight usually leads to minimal weight loss or regain of prior weight loss. Instead, care by a physician or health care professional is often required for treating obesity effectively.
The severity of obesity is measured by several methods including body mass index (BMI), body fat analysis, or waist measurements. For example, a waist over 35” in women or 40” in males may indicate obesity.
The treatment of obesity is comprehensive. People with obesity will be most successful when seeking the care of a health care provider with experience and expertise in obesity medicine. Providers with training in treating obesity take a systematic approach that first begins with an evaluation. Effective treatment includes several critical components:
- A nutrition plan that ensures delivery of all of the nutrients one needs while limiting the calorie intake.
- An activity plan tailored to goals and needs.
- Lifestyle change to give one the tools to keep off the weight.
- In some cases, weight loss medications can help to reduce appetite, reduce food cravings, and raise metabolism.
- A long-term maintenance plan.
For patients who do not respond to medical treatment, consultation with a bariatric surgeon may be considered.
Photo courtesy of the Canadian Obesity Network.