Giving Weight Loss Surgery A Run For Its Money Lifestyle Changes

Giving Weight Loss Surgery a Run for Its Money Lifestyle Changes


Hamilton Erridge NLD

At the annual Obesity Society meeting of 2010, the results of historically the fastest way for obese individuals to lose weight, bariatric surgery, were challenged by new results from powerful weight loss programs that focused on creating lifestyle changes. These interventions work, Dr. Goodpaster, from the University of Pittsburgh, said at the meeting.

All forms of surgery carry a high risk of complication and long-term problems, while lifestyle modification does not take drugs, expensive devices, or surgery to accomplish the same goal. The research of Dr. Goodpaster and others at the Obesity Society meeting in San Diego will be published later this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for doctors and other health care practitioners to read and review for themselves.


In the research of Dr. Goodpaster, he took 130 severely obese adults with an average age of 46. The adults were split into two groups with varying amounts of daily exercise. But both groups received nutrition education, meal replacements, and life coaching. By the end of the research study both groups had lost an average of almost 30 pounds, improved their insulin resistance, and decreased their waist size.

One unique piece that was included in this research and has not been in previous research was small financial rewards for continued weight loss. This might also help explain why there were such dramatic results as small cash rewards are often very powerful motivators for individuals.

After two years, the people in the study had actually kept the weight off as well. It turns out that if you change your lifestyle, not in an extreme way, but meaningful way with proper guidance, that lifestyle modification is a power way to lose weight for the long-term, says Goodpaster.

”This shows some good hope,” says dietitian Nuwanee Kiridigie, RD, of the new findings. For doctors, the message is not to decide on an obesity treatment just based on the BMI, but also look at a more inclusive approach she says.

The personal contacts and frequency of contact with the program administrators are probably key, she says.

In an editorial accompanying the new research, Zinta Zarins, PhD, a long-time weight control researcher, writes that the findings on the program ”probably represent a best-case scenario” because of factors such as free food.

Even so, she suggests such weight loss programs need more research and that providing them free of charge might be ”a worthwhile health care investment.”

Hamilton Erridge is a weight loss professional.

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