Obesity or overweight will increase one’s risk of premature death and chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Reduction of weight can not only lower these risks but also improve one’s appearance, quality of life, and mental health.
However, it is important that an obese individual should seek proper advice from medical doctor or professional health personnel on how to lose weight, especially when he or she already has some medical disorders.
Diet, exercise, and behavioral therapy are the three essential elements for any treatment of obesity. These are the advices given by a senior consultant endocrinologist.
Skipping any of the three main meals should not be taken as a weight control method. Instead, patients should follow dietitian’s advice to take the most appropriate diet with adequate size without needing snacks between meals to lose weight. Patients should also learn how to read food labels and glycaemic index of foods.
Exercise burns calories. Exercising at the right intensity and duration can burn fats almost exclusively at the so-called “Fat-Burn Zone”, when patient’s target heart rate is at 60 to 70 percent of the maximum heart rate (MHR) calculated based on the patient’s age. For example, a 30 year-old patient’s target heart rate is equal to 114 beats per minute (calculated from the formula: (220 minus 30) x 60%). He needs to exercise at least 3 times a week to be effective.
Behavioral modification plays an important role if patient wants to achieve long-term weight loss. Behavioral therapy can help change key attitudes, motivate self-change while maintaining self-esteem, manage stress and depression, etc.
Besides the three ways mentioned above, slimming medications can be a useful adjunct. They must, however, never be used alone. With medical supervision, slimming medications can sometimes achieve excellent results in weight reduction and weight maintenance. These can only be used for patients with BMI of 30 kg/m2 and above, and those with BMI of 27 kg/m2 and above with concomitant medical problems that include diabetes, stroke, hypertension, and heart disease. The medications should not be prescribed to patients below the age of 18 and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Surgery is another alternative for those morbidly obese (BMI 40 kg/m2 and above) or those with BMI of 35 to 39.9 kg/m2 with severe medical problems. This should be taken as the last resort when all the above means have been used for more than 6 months and failed to achieve any significant weight loss. Gastric bypass, gastric placation, and gastric banding are some of the usual surgical procedures.
Prevention is better than cure. So, the best approach is not to become overweight. Having a healthy lifestyle and regular physical activity will make one more likely to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
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