Why Diets & Exercise Aren’t Enough

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To treat people who are obese, doctors need to move beyond simply asking their patients to eat less and exercise more, new research confirms. Although medical professionals who specialize in obesity have always known this, a large percentage of other healthcare professionals still focus on a seemingly “simple” equation of eating less and moving more. Rather, the researchers say, they should focus on the biological mechanisms that make it hard for obese people to lose weight.

In an article, researchers say that while a healthy diet and exercise may help obese individuals lose weight in the short term, around 80-95% eventually gain back that weight. The body has a type of biological “fat-loss defense” that encourages it to remain at a higher weight, which is activated when calorie intake is decreased. Most people struggling with obesity are unable to override this natural defense mechanism through diet and exercise. Their own bodies fight to hold onto, and regain, fat.

If this is the case, what can obese individuals do to sustain long-term weight loss? The article suggests that going forward, these biological factors may be addressed. They noted that Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery (RYGB) has been shown to be effective in reversing changes in appetite-related hormones caused by obesity, which affects how the brain responds to food. Some research suggests that this may be why weight loss surgery is currently the only obesity treatment that works long-term. While weight loss drugs have been approved in the US in recent years, their long-term effects are not yet well-known, and the amount of excess weight lost is on average much less than through weight loss surgery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with losing a substantial amount of weight, you can learn more about your weight loss options and whether medicine or surgery may be a good option by contacting Dr. Moore.