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Treating obesity

6 scientifically-proven obesity treatment options to manage weight

There are lots of ways to treat obesity and manage weight. Each obesity treatment works in a different way and can be done on its own or combined with other treatments. With the help of obesity care providers, you can find an obesity treatment and create an obesity care plan specifically for you. 

4 min. read

Obesity is a complex disease with many causes. Professor Arya Sharma says that “No single management strategy will work for all patients.” As a clinician and the scientific director of Obesity Canada, Professor Sharma has specialised in treating obesity for the past 20 years. “Any successful management plan involves long-term coping strategies that help patients reduce their body weight and prevent weight regain,” he adds. 

Partner with your doctor to guide you through an obesity care plan, created just for you. Here's an overview of 6 scientifically-proven obesity treatment options* that can be a part of it.

Obesity treatment

Option #1: Transition to healthier ways of eating

Forget the miracle diet as an obesity treatment. When it comes to managing weight and obesity, changing how you eat means more than just eating less calories. 

Instead, your doctor will take how you eat into consideration when creating your obesity care plan. Some of the things that you can look at together include:

  • Time. Is there a specific time of day that you're most at risk of overeating or eating unhealthy food?
  • Place. Where do you normally eat? 
  • Emotions. Do you overeat or eat unhealthy food when you feel a certain way? For example, when you feel tired, stressed, or sad? 
  • Feeling full. How do you experience the feeling of fullness after a meal? 

These questions provide clues about what's making you gain weight or preventing you from losing weight. Your doctor can then help you transition to healthier ways of eating and having a more sustainable relationship with food. 

Obesity treatment

Option #2: More physical activity

Moving more and using more energy is another obesity treatment option. Whether or not it results in weight loss, physical activity can also improve many aspects of your health. Regular physical activity can result in health benefits for people in all BMI categories, such as improving cardiometabolic risk factors. 

Start by adding a little extra movement into your everyday life. If you sit a lot during the day, standing up and moving around for a few minutes every hour can make a difference. So can walking to the shops or taking the stairs, if possible. Even doing small things can mean a lot. The goal is to have 150 minutes of physical activity a week. You can build up toward this goal by gradually adding new activities and routines into your obesity care plan.

How does losing weight improve your health?

See how losing 13% of your body weight can lower your risk of developing certain obesity-related complications.

Obesity treatment

Option #3: Behavioural therapy

Since our body and mind are deeply connected, behavioural therapy is an obesity treatment option that takes this connection into account. Behavioural therapy are programmes that help patients reach their behavioural or health goals.

Behavioural therapists work with the psychological aspects of weight management. They can help you identify patterns in your thoughts, emotions, and behaviour that make you eat more and gain weight. Eating large portions, snacking frequently, and/or eating or drinking when you're not hungry are just some of the patterns you may have around food. The focus of behavioural therapy is to empower people living with obesity to make sustainable changes that improve their health, as well as promote their self-esteem and confidence. Doing this can help you manage your weight in the long term, improve your health status, and quality of life.

Obesity treatment

Option #4: Meal replacements / low energy diet

Meal replacements are calorie-controlled products that contain essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They're usually high in protein and low in fat and carbohydrates.

Meal replacements replace one or more of your daily meals with foods or formulas that provide a specified number of calories (for example, between 800 and 1200 calories a day). Meal replacements can be part of a clinically supervised obesity care plan.

Obesity treatment

Option #5: Anti-obesity medications

Anti-obesity medications are obesity treatment options that can work with the biological processes that affect your appetite.

There are different anti-obesity medications available and they work in different ways. Some anti-obesity medications help regulate your appetite and food cravings. These help you eat less and make it easier to change your lifestyle.

Anti-obesity medications can also help prevent weight regain. They do this by managing the way your body responds when you manage weight, such as the constant feeling of hunger. Other medications help you manage weight by changing the way your body absorbs food. For example, these lower the amount of fat that's absorbed by your body. 

Obesity treatment

Option #6: Bariatric surgery

Gastric bypass and other weight-loss surgeries — known collectively as bariatric surgery — involve making changes to your digestive system to help you lose weight. Bariatric surgery is an obesity treatment that can lower your appetite and the amount of food you can comfortably eat in one sitting. They've been shown to change the body's metabolism and hormones, both of which play a major role in how your weight is regulated. For example, the hormonal changes from bariatric surgery work to prevent weight regain.

Finding obesity treatment options that work for you

These are just 6 obesity treatment options that doctors have in their toolbox. Your doctor will help you consider all your options to create a personalised obesity care plan. But they can't predict how you'll respond to the different treatments that they recommend. We're all different and that means our response to the treatments will be highly individual too.

Your doctor may adjust your obesity care plan depending on your body’s response and your health needs. Different types of treatments may become more or less relevant as you make progress or experience roadblocks. And so, your obesity treatment plan should be tailored to your needs and may evolve over time.

Finding obesity care providers who are trained in helping people with obesity is the first step to get started. More and more healthcare providers understand the science behind the disease and how to treat it effectively, so don’t give up if it takes a little time to find one. If you’re unsure of how to start a conversation about managing weight and an obesity treatment with your doctor, this guide gives some tips for how to do it.

* Some obesity treatment options may cause side effects. This information shall not be understood as treatment advice or recommendations. Always consult your doctor for treatment advice.

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Find your local weight management provider

Talk to your weight management provider about treatment options that could prevent the weight you lose from coming back.

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