New Obesity Guidelines Outline Key Steps to Weight Loss

In response to an increasing demand for gastroenterologists to help manage obesity-related gastrointestinal diseases and gastrointestinal complications of weight-loss therapy, the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) has released guidelines for the treatment of obesity.

Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Patients Can Look to Gastroenterologists for Help Losing Weight

BETHESDA, MARYLAND
September 16, 2002

In response to an increasing demand for gastroenterologists to help manage obesity-related gastrointestinal diseases and gastrointestinal complications of weight-loss therapy, the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) has released guidelines for the treatment of obesity.

The guidelines, published in the September issue of the journalGastroenterology, emphasize the need for gastroenterologists to partner with patients over the long term to help them achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Weight loss can greatly improve or prevent the illnesses that are associated with obesity and decrease the risk of future medical complications.

“Obesity should be treated like other chronic health disorders, which can be controlled with proper treatment,” said Martin Brotman, MD, AGA president. “The principle goals of weight loss are to improve the patient’s health and well-being, not only appearance.”

The AGA recommends weight-loss therapy for patients with a body mass index (BMI) of more than 25 kg/m2. The key steps of weight-loss therapy are:

  1. Conducting a thorough medical evaluation, including a family medical history, a physical examination, and laboratory tests to identify eating and activity behaviors.
  2. Assessing the patient’s readiness to expend the effort necessary to lose weight, which should include determining the patient’s time commitment for daily exercise and whether there are any stresses or psychological conditions that could impede weight loss.
  3. Treating the obesity. Such treatment might include portion-controlled servings, a low-fat diet, increased physical activity, pharmacotherapy, or surgery. Behavior modification is also an important part of treatment. Clinical trials show that group therapy helps patients lose weight faster and keep it off longer.

Bariatric surgery is the most effective approach for sustaining long-term weight loss. However, it is recommended only for patients who don’t respond to conventional therapy and who have a BMI of 40 kg/m2 or who have a BMI of 35-39.9 kg/m2 and complications such as hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, or sleep apnea.

Obesity is a chronic disease that is estimated to be responsible for approximately 300,000 deaths per year in the United States. It can lead to type II diabetes, heart disease, stroke, pancreatitis, liver disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and a host of other illnesses.

Gastroenterology is the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association, the oldest non-profit specialty medical society in the United States with a membership of more than 12,500 physicians and researchers. Gastroenterology is the most prominent journal in the subspecialty and is in the top one percent of indexed medical journals internationally. Gastroenterology is published monthly.

Published by BIO|ANALOGICS
Copyright © 2002. All rights reserved

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