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Are Diet and Exercise Really Enough to Treat Morbid Obesity?

Obese woman exercising next to a slim female trainer and a fit man.

Getting enough exercise and eating healthier foods are the best ways to keep your body healthy and keep your health insurance premiums from getting too high, but when obesity becomes a medical issue, it becomes much more difficult for people to lose weight the old-fashioned way. Physical inability to exercise and chemical addiction to unhealthy foods can contribute to an extremely difficult uphill battle against obesity for problem patients, and new research suggests that simply telling a patient to eat less and move more isn’t enough.

These new studies hope to encourage doctors to examine the biological mechanisms that make weight loss so difficult for some people, and possibly even take advantage of those mechanisms to help patients adapt to a healthier lifestyle. Christopher Ochner, an assistant professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, explains that when people diet, the body thinks its starving, and an array of biological impulses encourage the body to eat more and gain the weight back. Humans are built to store energy in case food suddenly becomes unavailable, so when we diet, we’re fighting our natural impulses to eat and store energy. If you suffer from obesity, you may qualify for free government health insurance.

Causes of obesity go beyond overeating, and include…
– Genetic factors and predispositions
– Side effects of medication
– Sedentary lifestyles
– Basic human impulses and urges

This human instinct to feed also explains why people who successfully lose weight are often unable to keep the weight off. “In people who have been obese for many years, he noted, “body weight seems to become biologically ‘stamped in’ and defended,” Ochner elaborates.

The alternative Ochner suggests is something that many doctors (and patients) shy away from talking about due to its stigma as a “last resort”: medication and surgery. For many Americans, obesity is a medical condition that your body is fighting to protect, and often, a doctor’s recommendation to simply diet and exercise just isn’t enough. Diet and exercise can often work, but in extreme cases, it’s not a feasible, reliable, or permanent solution. If you’re worried about your own weight, you might consider seeking a free health quote.

Ochner doesn’t suggest that doctors should start jumping to existing medical solutions to obesity, but that new solutions need to be created and that those solutions should be applied alongside more conventional weight loss treatments like diet and exercise. Ochner and colleagues wrote, in the February 11th issue of The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, “We recommend the use of lifestyle modification to treat individuals with sustained obesity, but it should be only one component of a multimodal treatment strategy.”

Dr. Pieter Cohen, unrelated to the study and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard, agreed, saying, “For most of human history, it was just illness or lack of food that would lead you to lose weight.”

Of course, the best way to stay healthy is to eat healthy and stay active, regardless of your weight. A healthy diet and physical activity have endless benefits, so we encourage our readership to pursue a healthy lifestyle regardless of its effect on your weight.

What’s your favorite way to trim the fat from your diet? Have any reccommendations for those who just can’t seem to lose weight? Share your ideas in the comments section below!

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