Obesity treatment: Achieving long-term success for women

Posted by Seanna Thompson, M.D.
September 02, 2015

Obesity Treatment_Medium

Did you know that obesity is considered a chronic disease? It’s also a national epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of U.S. adults (over 78 million people) are obese. On a local level, officials in Goodhue County in Minnesota have identified obesity as the number one key priority on the most recent Community Health Needs Assessment.

Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. It’s no secret that weight gain occurs easily and weight loss can be a bit more challenging. Although there are genetic and hormonal influences on body weight, obesity occurs when you take in more calories than you burn through exercise and normal daily activities. Your body stores these excess calories as fat. As fat cells accumulate, so do the pounds you carry around your body each day.

Significant health risks are associated with obesity. Obesity is linked to dozens of other chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. Numerous cancers — including female reproductive tumors — are also associated with being overweight or obese. Other gynecologic problems may include infertility and irregular periods.

From a women’s health perspective, maintaining a healthy weight can significantly cut your risk of developing these life-threatening conditions. Studies show that even modest weight loss (3-5 percent of body weight) has been shown to produce significant improvement in many conditions.

Additionally, your quality of life may be impacted as well. Weight-related issues may incite low self-esteem, social isolation and a reduction in activities you may normally enjoy.

If you’ve tried losing weight on your own with little success, other options for obesity treatment, including weight-loss surgery and prescription weight-loss medication, are available. FDA approved medications include:

  • Phentermine
  • Phentermine/ Topiramate
  • Lorcaserin
  • Orlistat
  • Naltrexone/Bupropion
  • Liraglutide

Keep in mind, though, that weight-loss medication is meant to be used along with diet, exercise and behavior changes — not instead of them. If you don't make these other changes in your life, medication is unlikely to work for you.

Monitoring food intake and incorporating regular physical activity is important to achieve long-term success. Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing offers a small group exercise program called “Wellness for Life” that is geared toward people who have little exercise experience or those with chronic health conditions. The cost is $75 for six weeks. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and potential benefits and which weight loss solution might work best for you.

Seanna Thompson, M.D., is a physician at Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing and specializes in women’s health.

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