Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
How can patients choose a safe and successful weight-loss program?
Scientists have made tremendous strides in understanding obesity and in improving the medication treatment of this important disease. In time, better, safer, and more effective obesity medications will be available. But currently there is still no "magic cure" for obesity. The best and safest way to lose fat and keep it off is through a commitment to a lifelong process of proper diet and regular exercise. Medications should be considered helpful adjuncts to diet and exercise for patients whose health risk from obesity clearly outweigh the potential side effects of the medications. Medications should be prescribed by doctors familiar with the patients' conditions and with the use of the medications. Medication(s) and other "herbal" preparations with unproven effectiveness and safety should be avoided.
Almost any of the commercial weight-loss programs can work but only if they
motivate you sufficiently to decrease the amount of calories you eat or increase
the amount of calories you burn each day (or both). What elements of a
weight-loss program should a consumer look for in judging its potential for safe
and successful weight loss? A responsible and safe weight-loss program should be
able to document for you the five following features:
The diet should be safe. It should include all of the recommended daily
allowances (RDAs) for vitamins, minerals, and protein. The weight-loss diet
should be low in calories (energy) only, not in essential foodstuffs.
The weight-loss program should be directed toward a slow, steady weight loss
unless your doctor feels your health condition would benefit from more rapid
weight loss. Expect to lose only about a pound a week after the first week or
two. With many calorie-restricted diets there is an initial rapid weight loss
during the first one to two weeks, but this loss is largely fluid.
If you plan to lose more than 15 to 20 pounds, have any health problems,
or take medication on a regular basis, you should be evaluated by your doctor
before beginning your weight-loss program. A doctor can assess your general
health and any medical conditions that might be affected by dieting and weight
loss. Also, a physician should be able to advise you on the need for weight
loss, the appropriateness of the weight-loss program, and a sensible goal of
weight loss for you. If you plan to use a very low-calorie diet (a special
liquid formula diet that replaces all food intake for one to four months), you should
do so under the close supervision of a health care professional.
Your program should include plans for weight maintenance after the weight-loss phase is over. It is of little benefit to lose a large amount of weight
only to regain it. Weight maintenance is the most difficult part of controlling
weight and is not consistently implemented in weight-loss programs. The program
you select should include help in permanently changing your dietary habits and
level of physical activity, and to alter a lifestyle that may have contributed
to weight gain in the past. Your program should provide behavior modification
help, including education in healthy eating habits and long-term plans to deal
with weight problems. One of the most important factors in maintaining weight
loss appears to be increasing daily physical activity. Try to be more active
throughout the day and incorporate some simple calorie burners into your
everyday routine. Even the most basic activities (such as taking an after-dinner
walk, using the stairs at the mall or office instead of taking an escalator or
elevator, park your car farther away so you have a longer walk) can get you
prepared for more regular exercise like walking or jogging. You may choose to
incorporate an individually tailored exercise program into your schedule.
A commercial weight-loss program should provide a detailed statement of
fees and costs of additional items such as dietary supplements.
Obesity is a chronic condition. Too often it is viewed as a temporary problem
that can be treated for a few months with a strenuous diet. However, as most
overweight people know, weight control must be considered a lifelong effort. To
be safe and effective, any weight-loss program must address the long-term
approach or else the program is largely a waste of time, money, and energy.
Maintaining your ideal body weight is a balancing act between food
consumption and calories needed by the body for energy. You are what you eat.
The kinds and amounts of food you eat affect your ability to maintain your ideal
weight and to lose weight.
Medical science has established that eating proper foods can influence health
for all age groups. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's current dietary
guidelines state the following:
Eat a variety of foods.
Balance the food you eat with physical
activity -- maintain or improve your weight.
Choose a diet with plenty of grain
products, vegetables, and fruits.
Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and
Choose a diet moderate in sugars.
Choose a diet moderate in salt
If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.
Medically reviewed by a board-certified family practice physician
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Lars Sjöström, M.D., Ph.D., Anna-Karin Lindroos, Ph.D., Markku Peltonen, Ph.D., Jarl Torgerson, M.D., Ph.D., Claude Bouchard, Ph.D., Björn Carlsson, M.D., Ph.D., Sven Dahlgren, M.D., Ph.D., Bo Larsson, M.D., Ph.D., Kristina Narbro, Ph.D., Carl David Sjöström, M.D., Ph.D., Marianne Sullivan, Ph.D., Hans Wedel, Ph.D.. "Lifestyle, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Risk FActors 10 Years after Bariatric Surgery." New England Journal of Medicine.
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