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Obesity and Weight Loss; Treatment Approaches

August 18th, 2022

Almost half the adult US population are considered obese.

Obesity is an important condition to treat, because it can lead to other health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The most effective approaches includes diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, and prescription or over-the-counter medications.

Working with a dietitian and your physician is important to personalize your dietary approach. It is recommended to work with a behavioral health therapist, in person(for over 14 sessions for more than 6 months) for obese patients.

Effective dietary approaches(according to the American College of Endocrinology, American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, and The Obesity Society) include:

  1. 1. One approach is to find your estimated daily energy needs, and then ensure a daily deficit of 500-750 calories.

  2. 2. Reducing calorie intake to 1,500-1,800 calories per day for men or 1,200-1,500 calories per day for women.

  3. 3. A restrictive diet consisting of high fiber, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and hydration, and with low fats, carbs, and added sugars.

Many nutritionists recommend maintaining a calorie intake proportion as follows:

10% from protein

30% from fats (10% saturated fats)

55% from carbohydrates

Research supports the Atkin's and Mediterranean Diets' effectiveness for weight loss. Along with possible benefits of Nutrisystems, Weight Watchers, Paleolithic Diet and Jenny Craig.


At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week is recommended.

FDA Approved Medications (strongest evidence for effectiveness):

  1. 1. Orlistat (Alli) is an over-the-counter medication that decreases fat absorption. It is intended to be used with a balanced diet containing 30% of calories from fat, and with a multivitamin.

  2. 2. Saxenda (liraglutide).

  3. 3. Qsymia (phentermine/topiramate extended release).

  4. 4. Contrave (naltrexone/bupropion extended release).

Other Supplements:

Other supplements including litramine, caffeine, carnitine, conjugated linoleic acid (cla), chromium, green coffee bean extract, and white kidney bean may help to lose weight. They appear to be safe when used not longer than the duration of their clinical studies (more detail).

If these methods are ineffective, bariatric surgery is another effective option to treat obesity.

Lifestyle Tips:

  1. 1. Eat slowly.

  2. 2. Consider intermittent fasting with calorie restriction a few days per week.

  3. 3. Weigh yourself on a regular basis, aim for around 1-2 pounds per week.

  4. 4. Have water or soup before a meal.

  5. 5. Avoid high calorie drinks such as soda, or gatorade.

  6. 6. Fix yourself smaller portions. When we have a lot of food in front of us, we tend to overeat.

  7. 7. Don't keep any unhealthy foods in your home or workplace if possible.

  8. 8. Keep a diary of your eating habits and when you are eating most, in order to understand and alter you eating habits.

  9. 9. Ask your doctor if you are on prescription medications that can cause weight gain, and if they can be decreased or eliminated safely.

Written By: Evan Redmond, Pharm.D.

Reviewed By: Jon Pehrson, M.D.


NIH Weight Loss Supplements Consumer Info

Fock KM, Khoo J. Diet and exercise in management of obesity and overweight. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2013 Dec;28 Suppl 4:59-63. doi: 10.1111/jgh.12407. PMID: 24251706.

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