How Medical Weight Loss Differs From Other Weight Loss Programs

October 25, 2010

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medical weight loss doctorDo you wonder how medical weight loss is different from other weight loss plans? Good question!

First, unlike weight loss plans that take a one-size-fits-all approach, a medically based weight loss program is tailored to each individual patient’s needs and health circumstances. For instance, I recently saw a patient who, despite following a commercial weight loss program, was gaining weight every week instead of losing it. I was able to diagnose a slow thyroid in this patient that was affecting her metabolism and ability to lose weight.

I also saw a second patient in recent weeks who could not lose weight on her own despite not having a history of overeating or abusing food. We determined that she had polycystic ovarian syndrome, which was slowing her metabolism. With prescription medication treatment geared toward the hormone imbalance, this patient has successfully lost 31 pounds in 7 weeks time. She is still under my care and, happily, has been losing an average 3+ pounds weekly since treating the metabolic abnormality.

One of the first steps in medical weight loss plan is a complete medical workup that answers such important questions as:

  • Are hormonal levels in balance?
  • Is there possibly an underlying medical condition causing the weight gain?
  • Are the medications this patient takes for other medical conditions playing a role?
  • Could a food sensitivity be to blame?
  • Are there genetic factors at play?
  • Does the patient have behavioral patterns that need to change? and so on.

Second, medical weight loss approaches obesity as a chronic health condition that can be managed, treated, and monitored over time. The goal isn’t simply to lose a certain amount of weight as quickly as possible; it’s also to address the core underlying issues that are contributing to the weight issue so that the weight loss happens safely and permanently.

Weight gain and loss are much more complex than just eating certain foods or exercising a certain amount of time each week. While medical weight loss will include a nutritional and fitness plan, it goes far beyond that to include big picture solutions to the genetic, medical, and behavioral factors contributing to the patient’s weight gain (and loss) as well.

A third key difference of medical weight loss is that as medical professionals, we doctors have access to tools, such as appetite suppressants, that can make losing weight and keeping it off easier and much more effective. We’re also armed with the latest information on research into the complex causes and treatments for obesity and weight problems.

A fourth difference is the amount of ongoing support, monitoring, and one-on-one individual attention a medical weight loss program provides before, during, and after the excess weight is lost in a safe and controlled way. Routine check-ups once the program is successful assure that any future weight gain is caught and addressed early before it becomes a threat to the patient’s health and well-being.

Finally, for patients whose weight is playing a role in other health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, a medically supervised program provides close connection and communication between the medical weight loss doctor and all of the other medical professionals the patient may see. They can communicate about the patient’s overall health management plan, assuring that it’s all working together toward the goal of improving the patient’s health now and in the future.

When all of these factors are taken into account, it’s clear that a medical approach to weight loss provides advantages unavailable with any other weight management plan and can succeed where other weight loss plans often fail.

Dr. Michael Kaplan

Founder and Chief Medical Officer

The Center for Medical Weight Loss

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