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Weight Management

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Weight management

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If you are overweight or obese, losing even a modest amount of weight (5–10%) can mean significant health benefits.1 Setting goals is often the first step to reaching your target weight. Being committed to achieving your weight loss goal is half the battle. After all, a healthy weight can mean better heart and lung health, a lower risk of diabetes, less joint disease and even an improved life expectancy.1

Keeping your weight in check is all down to eating well, being active and having willpower, right? An increasing body of scientific evidence suggests otherwise. While lifestyle is important, complex mechanisms in the brain play a role in regulating hunger and cravings.2,3 There is evidence that the human body is programmed to actively defend against weight loss and maintain a certain range of body weight, known as ‘set point’. Your set point may be determined by your heaviest past weight. When you lose weight and drop below your set point, your brain triggers your appetite and cravings in an attempt to bring you weight back up to your set point.4,5

If, no matter which diet you try or how much exercise you do, you’re still struggling to lose weight, there is some good news. Your doctor may be able to help you achieve your goals. You just need to ask your doctor about clinically proven ways to lose weight.6 Asking your GP about the science behind weight management could be your first step to success.

References 

  1. Haslam D. et BMJ 2006;333:640-642
  2. Volkow N. et al. Obes Rev 2013;14(1):2-18
  3. Billes S et al. Pharma Research 2014;84:1-11
  4. Yu Y. et al. Obesity Reviews 2015;16:234-247
  5. Sumithran P. et al NEJM 2011:365:1597-1604

Ask your doctor about the weight loss options that best suit you.

Your doctor is in the perfect position to help you lose weight. That’s because often your doctor will know your family history and the details of your home and work life. They will have the knowledge to work out a plan with you that will fit with your lifestyle, so you have a better chance of success. Different treatment options include changes to diet and exercise, as well as clinically proven medications, and as a last resort, surgery.6

Your doctor is also best placed to help put you in touch with a network of health professionals that can help support you in your weight loss journey. So if you’re struggling to lose weight, ask your doctor how they can help take the weight off your body and mind.

Make an appointment to see your doctor today. Before seeing your doctor it may be useful to understand your body mass index (BMI) and your waist circumference, which are two ways that can be used to assess the health risks related to your weight.6

References 

6. NHMRC National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Clinical practice guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity in adults, adolescents and children in Australia. Melbourne

You can enjoy what you eat and still lose weight

Enjoying a diet that is healthy, well balanced and, perhaps most importantly, sustainable, is key to reaching your goal weight and staying at this weight. Remember, your diet shouldn’t be a short-term plan but a way of life.7

Your diet shouldn’t be about depriving yourself. Instead, it should nourish your body, making you feel healthy, satisfied and full of energy. You may have tried to diet before, but without success. If so, it may be time to take this simple self-assessment quiz <hyperlinked to https://cansciencetaketheweightoff.com/self-assessment/> to see how motivated you are to lose weight and keep it off. You can use the results of the quiz to help you start the conversation with your doctor about weight loss.

Healthy weight and diet

Our bodies need nutrients to give us the energy for our normal body functions, including cell metabolism, transporting substances around the body and maintaining the functioning of our muscles and organs.

The main sources of energy are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. These are also called macro-nutrients, as these are the nutrients that our bodies require in large amounts. The key to a well-balanced diet is to enjoy a variety of nutritious foods from each food group. Choosing the right foods and eating the correct amount of these foods is important to help you reach your goal weight and stay there.7

Tips for maintaining a healthy diet and weight

Establish healthy eating patterns

That means eating regularly, and being sure to eat breakfast. Skipping meals can leave you feeling hungry and more likely to snack on ‘junk’ food. A diet that includes a wide variety of nutritious foods is more likely to meet nutrient requirements, promote health and wellbeing and confer health benefits than restricted diets.

Learn to choose the right foods.

Eat plenty of vegetables, legumes and fruits as well as plenty of cereals, preferably wholegrain. Include lean meat, fish and poultry, as well as dairy, such as milk, yoghurt, and/or cheeses (preferably reduced fat) regularly in your diet. Always remember to drink plenty of water too.

Learn to limit “bad” foods.

It’s important to limit saturated fat and to moderate your total fat intake. You should also only consume moderate amounts of sugar and food containing sugars. Also, try to choose foods that are low in salt. If you do drink alcohol, limit your intake.

Learn to eat out sensibly.

Dining out doesn’t have to spell diet disaster. Plan ahead and choose a restaurant that has healthy options. Have a high-fibre snack (e.g. an apple) before you leave the house to help stop you from getting hungry. Be aware of portion size and always order any dressings on the side so you can choose how much you have. Avoid high-fat options – go for low-fat options instead. Try not to eat a three course meal – instead choose an entrée OR a dessert with your main course or share your entrée/dessert with someone else. Remember to ask for low- calorie or low-fat preparations of menu items. And be aware, when you drink alcohol you may be more tempted to make “naughty” food choices.

References

7. NHMRC National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Eat for health. Australian Dietary Guidelines

Exercise can help you reach your goals

Exercise can help you reach your ideal weight and maintain it in the long term. If you have tried exercise and diet before but have failed to reach your weight loss goals, it could be time to ask your doctor how they can help.

Healthy weight and exercise

Exercise is defined as any physical activity that pushes you out of your “comfort zone” by making you breathe harder, your heart beat faster and your body use more energy than usual. Staying active will help you reach your weight loss goals by burning energy. If you burn more energy with regular exercise while not eating any more than normal, you will improve your chances of losing weight. Changing your attitude to exercise, being active in many ways, walking more, and scheduling time for exercise can all help make a difference.

Tips for a healthy weight through exercise

1.     Change your attitude.

One of the most important things you can do is to choose an exercise that you like doing – it shouldn’t be a chore. This way you are more likely to stay motivated. You may also like to make exercise a social event by getting your friends involved. Try to think of movement as an opportunity to improve your health.

2.      Exercise regularly.

Try to do at least 30–60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on as many days a week as you can. If you can, also do some regular, vigorous activity that you enjoy. Remember, even small changes to your activity levels can make a difference to the calories you burn.

3.      Walk more.

Walk up the stairs instead of using the lift and walk up the escalator instead of standing still. Get off the bus or train a stop before your destination or if you drive, park a little further away. At work, walk to your colleague’s office instead of phoning or emailing them and go for a walk during your lunch break. Try to find different walks and alternate between them during the week. Walking is one of the easiest ways to increase your activity.

4.      Just get moving.

Join a gym or sign up for a class at a skill and fitness level you feel comfortable with – remember that there will always be people in the same position as you. Turn off the TV, get out and do something active. Perhaps mow the lawn or do some gardening – or even do some housework. You’ll not only benefit from having a clean house but will burn calories too!

Diet and exercise are a great start if you are trying to lose weight. Of course, it will also help to ask your doctor’s advice about losing weight and keeping it off.  Your doctor knows about the most effective, scientifically proven weight loss options – including lifestyle changes, medications and surgery.6,8 A step on the scales will allow you and your doctor to decide what the best approach would be for you.

Lifestyle changes

The first step in achieving a healthy weight is committing to changes in your lifestyle. If you want to lose weight, you need to change your energy balance by taking less energy into your body than it uses. You can do this by altering your diet (eating habits), increasing exercise and changing your behaviour. Behavioural changes mean first getting an understanding of the factors and/or behaviours that have contributed to you becoming overweight, or have stopped you from losing weight. Your doctor may refer you to a psychologist, counsellor or behavioural therapist for help with this.

Pre-prepared meals and VLED products

Various commercially prepared meal programs are available. These can help by providing energy controlled meals. Other options include VLED (very low energy diet) products and meal replacements. A VLED product (e.g. shakes, soups and bars) can be used to replace all or some meals. This option should be used with supervision from your doctor as part of a weight management program. VLEDs should not be confused with meal replacements. Meal replacements are not nutritionally complete, so there is a danger you could end up with malnutrition if you ONLY eat meal replacements.

Weight loss medications

Weight reducing medications may be used as part of an overall weight loss program that includes diet, exercise and behaviour changes. There are several weight loss prescription medicines that are currently approved for use in Australia. The prescription medicines available in Australia work in different ways directly affecting the area of the brain that controls your appetite making you feel less hungry.  These medications come in several different formats either as an oral treatment i.e. tablets or capsules or as an injection. The treatment schedule also varies from once-a-day capsules, tablets dosed twice daily and once daily injections. Together, you and your doctor will find the most appropriate medication and dose for you. It is important that you speak to your doctor to discuss your options.

Treatment options

Oral medications may be useful if you:                                          

·         Prefer taking tablets or capsules

·         Are comfortable sticking to a dosing plan

·         Don’t like having injections

Injections may be useful if you:

·         Prefer a daily injection

·         Have difficulty swallowing tablets or capsules

Weight loss surgery

Surgical treatments are often considered as the last resort, as they are only suitable in people with a higher BMI, or people with poorly controlled weight related conditions. Weight loss surgery is quite expensive and can be difficult to access. That said, surgical treatments are an effective way for people with severe obesity to lose weight. There are three common surgical weight loss options available; adjustable gastric banding, gastric bypass (which changes the way the stomach and intestine handle food) and gastric sleeve (which reduces the size of the stomach).

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

References

6. NHMRC National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Clinical practice guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity in adults, adolescents and children in Australia. Melbourne

8. Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society. Australian obesity management of obesity algorithm. Available at https://diabetessociety.com.au/documents/ObesityManagementAlgorithm18.10.2016FINAL.pdf. (accessed December 2018)

Your GP can help

Your doctor is likely to know your health history well. They are likely to be motivated and are qualified to help you reach your goals and reduce the risks. Stepping on the scales at your doctor’s surgery could be the first step to success in your weight loss journey.

Your doctor will offer an evidence-based approach to weight loss.6,8 Unlike fad diets and weight loss gimmicks, your weight loss plan will be based on science, making it both achievable and maintainable. Your treatment plan will depend on how overweight or obese you are, your overall health and your level of motivation to make changes to your lifestyle and complete a treatment program.

The easy way to talk to your doctor

You can access the self-assessment tools and complete this simple quiz, then print out the results to take to your doctor to help to start the conversation. In addition have a think about the questions your doctor may ask and what you may want to ask.

When you talk to your doctor, it is important to be honest about your level of concern about your health, how much your everyday life is affected by your weight and how committed you are to making changes and losing weight.

Your doctor may ask about your general health, medical history, previous weight loss attempts, and why you think you have struggled to lose weight. Your doctor could also ask about what you normally eat, how much physical activity you do and your weight loss goals.

You may want to ask your doctor about the possible health risks for you related to your weight, what the treatment options are, how long treatment will last and how much weight you can realistically expect to lose.

Remember you are not alone. In Australia, over 60% of adults are either overweight or obese.9 Your doctor will have had conversations with patients with obesity and who are overweight many times before.

References

6. NHMRC National Health and Medical Research Council (2013) Clinical practice guidelines for the management of overweight and obesity in adults, adolescents and children in Australia. Melbourne

8. Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society. Australian obesity management of obesity algorithm. Available at https://diabetessociety.com.au/documents/ObesityManagementAlgorithm18.10.2016FINAL.pdf. (accessed December 2018)

9. AIHW Australian Institute of health and Welfare (2017) A picture of overweight and obesity in Australia

It involves:

  • Goal setting and regular weigh-ins to help people monitor their progress and most importantly, enjoy a real sense of achievement when they reach their goals
  • Diet support including meal plans and recipes
  • Tips on increasing activity levels and how to eat socially
  • And lots of other tips to help keep people motivated and committed throughout their weight management journey.

 You can join LivingLite® today directly, or make contact with your Healthcare Professional for further support.

[https://livingliteprogram.com.au/ for enrolment]

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Empowering Australians to make better health choices