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Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health

by EBSCO Medical Review Board

image for weight loss option article More than a third of adults in the United States are now obese—and the number keeps rising. Obesity can lead to many health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. These are leading causes of early death, but the risk can be lowered losing weight.

Balancing Diet and Exercise

To lose weight, a person needs to take in fewer calories than they burn or burn more than they take in. The math stays the same whether a person uses diet, exercise, medicine, supplements, surgery, therapy, or group support.

Focus on eating a healthful diet that is rich in fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean meats. You must also limit fat, carbohydrates, and processed foods. A dietitian can help you with meal planning.

To burn more calories, you'll need to up your activity level. Even walking can help you lose weight. Find something that you like to do. You'll find it easier to stick with it. Aim for 2.5 hours or more per week. Start slowly and add more time each day.

Medicine and Supplements

Some people turn to medicine to help with weight loss. Some medicines make a person feel less hungry by interfering with brain chemicals. Others reduce the way the body absorbs fat. They should only be used as one part of an overall plan that includes diet and exercise. Keep in mind that medicines can have side effects, so you will need to stay in touch with your care team while you are taking them.

The same goes for supplements. They do not go through the same approval process as medicines. Some of them may result in weight loss, but they can have side effects to. Be sure to talk to your doctor before you take any over the counter weight loss products.

The question is: when should you think about taking these weight loss aids? It depends on your health. It is best to try to make changes to your diet and activity levels for 6 to 12 months before adding medicine or supplements to your weight loss plan.

Tips to Help You Get Started

Getting started is often the hardest part of losing weight. Here are some tips that can help you overcome barriers to weight loss:

  • Set realistic goals and monitor your progress toward them
  • Slowly make changes to your eating habits and activity levels
  • Work with a therapist look at your relationship with food and reframe negative thoughts
  • Find people who will help support your goals

It is clear that losing weight is not simple. But even small changes can make a difference and help you lower the risk of more health problems in the future.

RESOURCES

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute  http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov 

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases  http://www.niddk.nih.gov 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Dietitians of Canada  http://www.dietitians.ca 

Health Canada  http://www.canada.ca 

References

Choosing a safe and successful weight-loss program. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/choosing-a-safe-successful-weight-loss-program. Accessed June 9, 2021.

Diets for weight loss. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/diets-for-weight-loss. Accessed June 9, 2021.

Obesity in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/obesity-in-adults. Accessed June 9, 2021.

Weight loss medications for obesity in adults. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/weight-loss-medications-for-obesity-in-adults-16. Accessed June 9, 2021.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board
  • Review Date: 06/2021
  • Update Date: 06/09/2021