Weight Loss Medications are not Enough

Weight loss medications are not the end all be all of achieving a healthy weight. Optimal weight loss for obese patients may require expert care from a board-certified bariatric physician as well as lifestyle interventions.   

The pandemic years of 2020-2022 saw obesity in the US soar by 30% and severe obesity double during this time.  This time period also saw a huge increase in telehealth visits, or doctors visits via video services like Zoom, as doctors and patients alike avoided in-person appointments to avoid catching the virus.  Combine these two trends and it is no surprise that millions of Americans are now turning to telehealth to lose the excess pounds they put on during the pandemic. Many of these telehealth sessions last up to 15 minutes and make prescription weight loss drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy and Trulicity central to their weight loss strategy. But is 15 minutes with a medical professional and a prescription for a weight loss drug enough to help you shed the unhealthy pounds?  Scientific evidence will suggest that a lot more professional effort, time and expertise is required to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

The Statistics

With 42% of the overall US population now obese according to the National Institute of Health, it is time for us to take a long hard look at how we have been attempting, and failing, to tackle obesity as a profession. 

If weight loss were easy, everyone would be doing it.  The reality is that it is very hard to lose weight and keep it off.  The statistics are damning: numerous studies show that as little as 3% of dieters are able to lose weight and keep it off for 3 or more years. 97% of subjects either do not lose weight, or they gain it back within 3 years. Many weight loss studies have limited their tracking of subjects to only 18 months, either deliberately or inadvertently creating the false narrative that certain methods or products work. 

Weight loss drugs offer a partial solution.  Obese patients who have been prescribed weight loss drugs have lost on average 8% of their weight and have been able to keep it off as long as they stay on the drug.  8% is a significant number.  However, an obese person weighing 350lbs who loses 8% will then weigh 322lbs.  Enough to improve their health?  Perhaps, but they will still be obese.  Getting most people below the threshold of obesity will take more than just prescription drugs alone.     

Yet where prescription drugs, diets and exercise routines have failed, comprehensive lifestyle interventions have succeeded.  The formula for making weight loss work includes a series of tried and tested factors.

The Solution to Obesity

The success rate of medically supervised weight loss programs lies in stark contrast to the other solutions you might find in the fitness or dieting world.  Much more than simply having a doctor to prescribe weight loss drugs, medically supervised weight loss necessarily includes the following factors: 

Bariatric Specialists

Obesity is a complex and chronic medical condition that requires specialized treatment, and a board-certified bariatric physician is uniquely qualified to provide this care.  Being board-certified means that a doctor can act as an expert in a specific area, in this case, the management of obesity.  Your board-certified physician can provide specialized expertise, access to advanced treatment options and take a multidisciplinary approach that blends nutrition, psychological factors and potentially prescription medication. Using a doctor for weight loss?  Ask them if they are a bariatric specialist.

Longer Appointments

Because of the unique nature of obesity, it is vitally important that you are able to spend at least 45 minutes with your bariatric specialist.  Because every case is different, time will need to be taken in order to check your body composition and discuss any related illnesses such as diabetes, sleep apnea or hypertension.  Importantly, your doctor will also need to get to know you as an individual.  By discovering your allergies and preferences as well as your relationship to food, drink and physical activity your doctor can better design a personalized plan to help you lose and keep off the excess weight.

Weight Loss Technology

Successful weight loss cases typically start with measuring body fat composition and involve the measurement of ketones to ensure that your body is burning fat.  In addition, food and activity journaling software provides a means of tracking daily intake of food and drink and an accurate account of calories burned.  If you are doing a series of telemedicine sessions for weight loss, does your doctor provide you with the technological tools to measure body composition and manage daily intake as part of the program?  If so, you may be receiving the type of medical attention you need to succeed.

“Obese patients who have been prescribed weight loss drugs have lost on average 8% of their weight and have been able to keep it off as long as they stay on the drug.” 

On-Demand Medical Advice

Can you eat lobster?  How about a bowl of rice?  Feeling nausea due to the weight loss medicine?  These and other situations may require the intervention of your bariatric specialist. Make sure your program includes at least access to your doctor by chat or text as part of the deliverables.  That personalized level of attention means that you don’t have to look up the generic answers to your questions on the Internet. 

Dr. Amir’s Weight Loss and Metabolism Center

Dr. Amir’s Weight Loss and Metabolism Center is a state-of-the-art facility that offers patients a customized, multidisciplinary approach to weight loss management. With longer consultations, careful use of obesity medications when appropriate, and the latest in technology, this center has a proven track record of getting great results. If you’re ready to take control of your weight and improve your overall health, we encourage you to book an initial consultation with Dr. Amir today. Click here to learn more and take the first step on your journey to a healthier, happier you!

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