Around 160 million Americans are obese or overweight. There could be several factors leading to this growing epidemic including larger portions, confusion on nutrition and diet, and inactivity.
Do you feel you are overweight? If you want to understand and prevent obesity, there is a medical field dedicated to helping Americans lose weight. Let’s take a look at bariatrics to understand how to stay healthy and keep your weight down.
If you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, you are considered obese. BMI is a measure that compares your height with your weight. If your BMI is above 35, it is known as severe obesity and you may need more than just diet and exercise to bring your weight down.
If you have a higher BMI, you are at risk for chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Bariatric healthcare providers study, treat and help patients prevent obesity. The bariatrics field includes therapy, medications, diet, exercise, and various surgeries to help achieve and keep weight loss.
Not all healthcare providers that specialize in bariatrics are surgeons. A nutritionist can specialize in bariatrics to help patients overcome obesity through diet and nutrition. A therapist can also provide bariatric therapy to help individuals learn coping mechanisms and methods to help psychologically with their weight loss.
The most well-known use of the term bariatrics is the area that treats obesity with surgical methods and treatments. There are some temporary and permanent procedures to make the stomach smaller to lower the amount of food and calories ingested.
The Science of Gaining Weight
Our bodies will gain weight take in more calories than you burn because the body stores these extra calories as fat. If you want to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you use. Calories are our bodies’ basic units of energy to keep our body running.
As we age, our metabolism tends to slow down, which means we won’t burn calories as fast as we did when we were younger. This means you could eat the same amount of calories as you did before and still gain weight without changing anything. People also tend to slow down when they get older, so they are not getting the same amount of physical activity.
Non-Surgical Options for Weight Loss
Healthcare providers will look at non-surgical options first to help a patient with weight loss. These early interventions include:
- Comprehensive exercise plans
- Monitored diets
- Intense behavioral therapy
All of thee options are used to target and fix any poor eating habits. Patients will learn what to do, what to eat, and how much he or she should exercise through education and encouragement.
In addition, there are some medications. Glucophage decreases the amount of glucose from the liver and increases the absorption of glucose in the muscles. This medicine is also used to treat diabetes.
Belviq helps lowers a person’s appetite by activating serotonin to regulate your digestive activity. Xenical reduces the intestinal fat absorption by preventing pancreatic enzymes from breaking down the fat.
Another appetite stimulant called Qsymia can also help with weight loss. Byetta is a medicine used for type 2 diabetic patients that can also help with weight loss. It makes a person feel full faster.
Contrave is a newer medicine that reduces your appetite and calorie intake. This is a prescription medication you take in addition to diet and exercise.
Bariatric surgery is the next type of treatment if the non-surgical options do not work. This is typically an option for people that have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater.
There are multiple surgery options available. Gastric bypass surgery is one of the most common types of surgery. It reduces the amount of food a person can eat because this surgery removes a portion of the stomach.
If someone wants a more temporary option, adjustable gastric banding (or lap band) adds a non-permanent silicone band that makes the stomach smaller. This band can be adjusted or removed as needed.
Gastric sleeve surgery is a permanent option that reduces the size of the stomach around 15 percent. It removes the sleeve-like portion of stomach.
Gastric balloon surgery is minimally invasive and adds a deflated balloon in the stomach. The balloon can then be inflated to reduce this gastric space.
Vertical banded gastroplasty is also known as stomach stapling. This involves adding a permanent staple to the stomach which creates a smaller pouch.
Ways to Prevent Weight Gain
If you want to try to keep your weight down on your own, there are things you can do. First, keep a food log—be sure to include all the mindless eating you do. It’s important to know what you are putting in your body and you can start counting how many calories you are actually eating.
Cut out some of the unhealthy foods like refined sugars. Making healthier choices when you eat carbs like staying away from white bread and regular pasta. Choose healthier options instead such as whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, or sweet potatoes.
Fill up on veggies, fruits, and lean meats. High-fiber foods, like beans, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit, take longer to digest, so they are more filling. You should also watch your portion size. Try to eat more vegetables at dinner instead of your meat or main course.
It’s also important to drink water. Sometimes your body can confuse thirst with hunger, so try drinking water before you snack or before each meal.
You also need to exercise and get moving to burn calories. Find an exercise you enjoy like swimming, walking, running, hiking, or exercise classes. If you are short on time, try doing 3-10 minute workouts a day, which can be just as good as a 30-minute workout—anything is better than nothing.
You should also increase your muscle mass to help you lose weight. Experts recommend strength training a few times a week to build and regain muscle.
Need Help Losing Weight?
If you want to lose weight, you may want to turn to the experts for advice because bariatrics can be confusing and each person is different. We offer weight loss programs and professional guidance to help you lose weight and keep it off.
Find a provider near you to help you with your weight loss journey.