Obesity treatment: achieving long-term success for women

September 21, 2015

Did you know that obesity is considered a chronic disease? It’s also a national epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of U.S. adults (over 78 million people) are obese. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater.

"It’s no secret that weight gain occurs easily, and weight loss can be a bit more challenging. Although there are genetic and hormonal influences on body weight, obesity occurs when you take in more calories than you burn through exercise and normal daily activities," says Dr. Seanna Thompson, Mayo Clinic Health System OB-GYN physician. "Your body stores these excess calories as fat. As fat cells accumulate, so do the pounds you carry around your body each day."

Significant health risks are associated with obesity. Obesity is linked to dozens of other chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes. Numerous cancers — including female reproductive tumors — are also associated with being overweight or obese. Other gynecologic problems may include infertility and irregular periods.

From a women’s health perspective, maintaining a healthy weight can significantly cut your risk of developing these life-threatening conditions. Studies show that even modest weight loss (3-5 percent of body weight) has been shown to produce significant improvement in many conditions.

Additionally, your quality of life may be affected as well. Weight-related issues may incite low self-esteem, social isolation and a reduction in activities you may normally enjoy.

If you’ve tried losing weight on your own with little success, other options for obesity treatment include weight-loss surgery and prescription weight-loss medication. FDA approved medications include:

— Phentermine

— Phentermine/ Topiramate

— Lorcaserin

— Orlistat

— Naltrexone/Bupropion

— Liraglutide

Keep in mind, though, that weight-loss medication is meant to be used along with diet, exercise and behavior changes — not instead of them. If you don't make these other changes in your life, medication is unlikely to work for you. "Monitoring food intake and incorporating regular physical activity is important to achieve long-term success. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and potential benefits and which weight-loss solution might work best for you," says Dr. Thompson.

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services