Weight Loss Is About Health, and So Much More

Posted: October 10, 2012 in Obesity Medicine by

Losing weight is great for your health, but there is more to it than that. Weight Loss is not just about the treatment of Diabetes, High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol.

The medical treatment for being overweight and obesity is not just about treating diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, although weight loss is quite good for these and many other medical diseases. The usual amount of weight loss needed to improve most of these conditions is the loss of 10% of a person’s initial weight.

The often overlooked part of weight loss is mental improvement. This ranges from improvement in self-esteem, self-confidence, body image and even overall positive affect. When we restore our patient’s hope in the possibility of significant and lasting weight loss and help them realize that they do not have to remain overweight forever it often triggers a whole cascade of mentally positive outcomes.

Many studies have looked into the reasons that an overweight or obese patient begins a weight loss program. One large group of reasons are medical reasons. Medical reasons are to help improve knee pain, diabetes, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. Another group is mental, and often have to do with an embarrassing weight related event. These events are quite varied. They can be from needing a seat belt extender on an airplane, getting stuck or not being able to sit in a particular theatre seat, or unfortunately all too common, a weight related comment than an uncaring or mean person may make. Many of our children as well as adult patients (when they were children) report being often subject to bullying as a result of their weight.

A whole group of doctors (physicians), called obesity medicine specialists, have special experience with the mental aspect of treating overweight and obesity. Many have experience in their own lives with obesity and its mental consequences. They counsel patients on a daily basis regarding things that have been said to them in the courses of their daily lives and the unfortunate things often said under one’s breath or in ways that are seemingly meant to be “helpful” to an overweight person that is not helpful or productive at all. Patients with weight problems often need “thick skin” in many interactions with others. And many overweight people are discriminated against in the workplace.

It is very important to focus on weight loss as a tool to help weight related conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Yet, to suggest that patients who are overweight but who do not have these “objective” measures of adverse metabolic sequelae (the measurable metabolic problems) that often result from being overweight or obese are less deserving of medical weight loss is to overlook a whole aspect of the multiple benefits of weight loss. Every overweight person should be encouraged to seek a reputable weight loss physician or medical weight loss program if weight loss is desired.