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Understanding Obesity Treatment

How Is Obesity Treated?

Three factors are considered when treating obesity: the severity of the obesity, the presence of other risk factors for heart disease, and the possibility of other health problems that may be caused or made worse by excess weight.

Doctors now realize that it may be unrealistic to attempt to get a person who is obese to lose a large amount of weight and keep it off. However, recent studies have shown that even modest weight loss provides significant health benefits by reducing the risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and other diseases.

Anyone who is trying to lose weight should change his or her eating and exercise habits. Counseling or support groups are an important part of successfully making these lifestyle changes.

Depression or a physical problem that limits a person's ability to exercise should be treated, if possible, before starting a weight-loss program. People with untreated depression often have a difficult time staying on a weight-loss program. If a person is unable to do at least mild exercise, he or she will have difficulty losing weight.

Weight-loss medications, either prescription or nonprescription, should only be used along with a weight-loss diet and exercise program. Use of medications without lifestyle changes is unlikely to have great, long-term success.

A very low-calorie diet may be considered if you need to lose weight quickly to protect your health and your health care provider decides it is a safe method for you to use. People are not kept on this diet for long periods of time because the diet lacks certain nutrients the body needs. Such diets should be done only with careful medical supervision.

Even if you and your health care provider have developed a plan for weight loss, the daily decisions needed to make the plan work are up to you. Healthy, long-term success in conquering obesity depends on changing your eating and exercise habits.

Surgery is sometimes used to treat obesity. Many doctors will consider it only for people who have not been able to lose weight with other treatments and who are at high risk for developing other health problems because of their weight.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on September 21, 2012

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