There are countless weight-loss strategies available but many are ineffective and short-term, particularly for those who are morbidly obese. Among the morbidly obese, less than 5 percent succeed in losing a significant amount of weight and maintaining the weight loss with non-surgical programs — usually a combination of dieting, behavior modification therapy and exercise.
People do lose weight without surgery, however, particularly when they work with a certified health care professional to develop an effective and safe weight-loss program. Most health insurance companies don't cover weight-loss surgery unless you first make a serious effort to lose weight using non-surgical approaches.
Many people participate in a combination of the following therapies.
Many of us have tried a variety of diets and have been caught in a cycle of weight gain and loss — "yo-yo" dieting — that can cause serious health risks by stressing the heart, kidneys and other organs.
Ninety percent of people participating in all diet programs regain the weight they've lost within two years. For people who have weight-loss surgery, dieting is an instrumental part of maintaining weight loss after surgery.
If you decide to go on a diet, we recommend that you work with a health professional who can customize a diet to meet your needs. A diet should greatly restrict your calorie intake, but maintain your nutrition. Calorie-restrictive diets fall into two basic categories.
See information on the Weight Management Program at UCSF Medical Center.
The goal of behavior modification therapy is to change your eating and exercise habits to promote weight loss. Examples include:
Although some people experience success with behavior modification, most patients achieve only short-term weight loss for the first year. If you plan on having weight-loss surgery, behavior therapy and dieting will be instrumental in helping you maintain your weight loss after surgery.
Surgery is a tool to get your body to start losing weight. Diet and behavior modification will determine your ultimate success.
Exercise greatly increases your chance of long-term weight loss. It is a key component for any long-term weight management program, particularly weight-loss surgery.
Research shows that when you reduce the number of calories you consume, your body reacts by slowing your metabolism to burn fewer calories, rather than promote weight loss. Daily physical activity can help speed up your metabolism, effectively reducing the "set point" — a sort of thermostat in the brain that makes you resistant to either weight gain or loss — to a lower natural weight.
Starting an exercise program can be intimidating if you're morbidly obese. Your health condition may make any level of physical exertion extremely difficult. But you can learn strategies to help you start a realistic exercise routine. The following strategies can help you start exercising and can be incorporated into your daily routine.
A variety of over-the-counter and prescription weight loss drugs are available. Some people find these drugs help curb their appetites. Studies show that patients on drug therapy lose around 10 percent of their excess weight, and that the weight loss plateaus after six to eight months. As patients stop taking the medication, weight gain usually occurs. Weight loss drugs, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating obesity, include:
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