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Medication in the Treatment of Obesity (cont.)

Treatment of Obesity


The safest and most effective way to lose weight is a combination of eating less and increasing physical activity.

  • While there are many different methods for decreasing the amount of food you eat, the successful ones all have one thing in common: reducing calorie intake.

Physical activity

Physical activity helps you lose weight by burning calories.

  • It also may help you keep weight off once you lose it.
  • Many obese people think they cannot exercise, but everyday physical activities such as walking, climbing stairs, doing chores, and dancing can help you lose weight if done daily for at least 30 minutes.

Behavior modification

This is another name for changing your attitude toward food and exercise.

  • These changes promote new habits and attitudes that help you lose weight.
  • Many people find they cannot lose weight or keep it off unless they change these attitudes.
  • Behavioral-modification techniques are easy to learn and practice.
  • Most involve increasing your awareness of situations in which you overeat so that you can stop overeating.
  • Support groups are one form of behavioral therapy.


Some obese people have difficulty losing weight through diet and exercise alone.

  • If that is the case with you, see your health care professional. He or she may be able to suggest some new strategies that you haven't tried.
  • In some, but not all cases, your health care professional may suggest additional treatments to help you lose weight. Medication is by far the most widely used of these treatments.


Surgery for obesity, called bariatric surgery, alters the stomach or the intestines so that the person digests less food or is satisfied with less food.

  • These operations have improved over the years and are now considered a safe and acceptable way to help obese people control their weight.
  • However, all operations have risks, and for that reason, surgery is recommended only for morbidly obese people (BMI greater than 40), or obese people (BMI greater than 35) if the person has serious obesity-related medical problems).
  • Like all treatment for obesity, surgery is successful only if the person is committed to lifestyle changes and has a desire for better health.


Many dietary supplements make promises about weight loss. In fact, few if any of these have been shown to definitely help with weight loss.

  • In general, people who have lost weight while taking these supplements also have eaten less and increased their physical activity.
  • However, some of these are being studied to see whether they are safe and effective.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/23/2015
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