The outcome of a recently published diet study was that commercial diets are better than primary care doctors’ treatment. This was reported this morning on yahoo news. I agree. Treatment of weight should be very individualized. Primary care physicians and their staff are not trained in the unique nuances of the problems of each person’s eating. Also, with the average office visit once every 3-6 months and only 10 minutes in length with the majority of time spend in refilling medications, the primary care physician does not have the time to really get into the specifics of each person’s weight issues.
The problem with the study is that even though the programs had statistically significant weight loss compared to the primary care programs, the weight loss was only 9.7 lbs. There is of course a place for commercial programs. Their low cost is definitely appealing to insurers and individuals alike. The patients who see medical obesity specialists unfortunately have failed commercial programs. They have been on between 6 and 12 diets in the past. These diets do work for some but most need much more than 9.7 lbs. of weight loss to correct or prevent future problems with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea and fatty liver disease, to just name a few.
Medical Weight Loss from a medical obesity specialist usually has 4 aspects:
- Physician oversight with accountability, medication use and medication adjustment (when for example blood pressure medications should be stopped or changed)
- An individualized diet plan- able to be tailored to each person’s preferences
- An exercise plan
- A class series or learning modules that help each person adjust to their own weight loss roadblocks and emotional (non-hunger based) eating concerns
Think of a chair with 4 legs. If each leg is strong and effective the chair stands. It stands because of all 4 legs equally. With only 1 or 2 legs, the chair does not do its job and the person falls. An incomplete weight loss program will also fail and the patient will gain weight back. It is important to address all 4 aspects of a successful weight loss program. Doing so, will help more patients lose meaningful and medically significant weight.