Medical Weight Loss Programs: Are They Right for Me?

Medical Weight Loss Programs: Are They Right for Me?


Medical weight loss programs may or may not be commercially owned. Services are provided in a health-care setting,such as a hospital, by licensed health professionals, such as physicians, nurses, dietitians, and/or psychologists. In some clinical programs, a health professional works alone; in others, a group of health professionals works together to provide services to patients. Clinical programs may offer you services such as nutrition education, medical care, behavior change therapy, and physical activity.

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Clinical programs may also use other weight-loss methods, such as very low-calorie diets, prescription weight-loss drugs, and surgery, to treat severely overweight patients. These treatments are described below:

Very low-calorie diets (VLCDs) are commercially prepared formulas that provide no more than 800 calories per day and replace all usual food intake. VLCDs help individuals lose weight more quickly than is usually possible with low-calorie diets. Because VLCDs can cause side effects, obesity experts recommend that only people who are severely overweight use these diets, and only with proper medical care.

Prescribed weight-loss drugs should be used only if you are likely to have health problems caused by your weight. You should not use drugs to improve your appearance. Natural weight-loss supplements, when combined with a healthy diet and regular physical activity, may help some obese adults lose weight. There is a wide variety of prescription weight-loss drugs on the market, however, before these medications can be widely recommended, more research is needed to determine their long-term safety and effectiveness.

You may consider gastric surgery to promote weight loss if you are more than 80 pounds overweight. The surgery, sometimes called bariatric surgery, causes weight loss in one of two ways: 1) by limiting the amount of food your stomach can hold by closing off or removing parts of the stomach or 2) by causing food to be poorly digested by bypassing the stomach or part of the intestines. After surgery, patients usually lose weight quickly. While some weight is often regained, many patients are successful in keeping off most of their weight. In some cases, the surgery can lead to problems that require follow-up operations. Surgery may also reduce the amount of vitamins and minerals in your body and cause gallstones.

If you are considering a weight-loss program and you have medical problems, or if you are severely overweight, programs run by trained health professionals may be best for you. These professionals are more likely to monitor you for possible side effects of weight loss and to talk to your doctor when necessary.

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