Dr. Vash explains why an obese person should lose weight with the assistance of a physician.
There are a huge number of weight loss programs, but one of the most important points I stress to my patients is that because I believe obesity is a medical disease it should be treated by medical professionals using medical tools to treat this disease, and I say that because obesity is closely aligned with about 35 or more chronic diseases and these diseases range from diabetes type-2, heart disease, high cholesterol, hypertension, many female problems, breast cancer, uterine cancer, infertility, low back problems, gall bladder disease – there’s a whole range of medical diseases.
If people just focus on, ‘I want to lose weight’ without an understanding of how their obesity affects these other medical problems they miss the whole package; they miss arriving at a level of health which is more than just weight loss, and that’s another point I’d like to stress to my patients. Losing weight is not the same thing as being healthy. They are slightly different.
A lot of people will lose weight very quickly and they will find that they look emaciated and look sickly. So patients will say, “Are you sick? Are you okay? You don’t look very healthy,” as opposed to losing weight and from a medical point of view in a safe, steady fashion so people say, “Gosh, you look healthy; you look younger.” That’s why I think a medical component is very important for any weight loss program.
One of the things that has struck me with many of my patients over the years is the fact that patients really in their heart of hearts know how they gotten fat. They have eaten too much fatty foods, larger portions, eating between meals, eating day and night, drinking too much alcohol, but most patients haven’t really understood why they have gotten fat, how they have come to use food as a coping mechanism.
Once the physician is able to touch upon that and have the patient understand how they view food to cope with their, if you will, psychological stresses, anxiety, boredom, depression, grief, frustration, and they are given the thought that they can change how they use food to arrive at a better, healthier mindset and coping mechanism, then the wheels start to really go.
About Dr. Peter Vash, M.D., M.P.H.:
Dr. Vash is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Center for Health Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is a Board Certified Internist specializing in Endocrinology and Metabolism, with an emphasis in obesity and eating disorders.