Diet and Nutrition

Treatments for Obesity

Treatments for Obesity

Losing weight successfully involves making certain lifestyle changes and setting realistic goals. You will also need to be physically active and reduce your calorie intake. Surgery and medicines may be required in extreme cases of obesity.


There is no standard caloric intake for everyone because we all have different bodies, but most medical practitioners recommend that people who need to check their weight should slash off at least 600 calories from their daily energy intake. This means women should ingest 1400 calories at most, while men should be consuming about 1900 calories a day. The easiest way to achieve this is to replace high-energy and unhealthy foods, such as sugary drinks, fast food and processed food, with healthier food. This is what a healthy diet should look like:

  • Lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Bread, potatoes, rice and starchy foods like pasta should be part of your diet.
  • Dairy foods and other non-dairy foods that contain proteins such as fish, meat, beans and eggs.
  • Small portions of fatty and sugary foods and drinks.

Consume lower amounts of salt to avoid high blood pressure, especially if you are already obese. Try to obtain accurate information on the amount of calories contained in each food so as to avoid eating more than you should.

Avoid crash diets that recommend hash practices, like cutting out some food groups entirely or fasting. They will only make your situation worse by making you feel sick, and they don’t provide long-term healthy eating habits. However, some programs that are based on scientific and medical principles may work for other people.

There are very low calorie diets (VLCD) where you are required to eat no more than 800 calories a day. Even though these diets do normally lead to fast weight loss, they are not recommended for everyone, especially those trying to manage obesity. For anyone using VLCDs, you should be under the supervision of a professional who is specialized in these kinds of diets.


Consuming fewer calories in your diet may help you lose a few pounds, but you will also need to exercise to burn energy and maintain a healthy body. Exercise should always go hand in hand with dieting for the best results. Apart from helping you manage your weight, physical exercise comes with a number of other health benefits, like prevention and management of more than 20 health conditions.

The recommended duration of exercising for adults is at least two and a half hours a week. This can divided into five 30-minutes long sessions a week. However, doing even 10 minutes of rigorous exercise is better than doing nothing at all. Any activity that increases your heart rate and breathing is considered an exercise. This can take the form of cycling, swimming, dancing or brisk walking. However, there are other vigorous exercises like running, gym workouts, martial arts, and others that cause you to sweat and rapidly increases your heart rate. If you opt into doing these forms of exercises, you should do at least 75 minutes a week to achieve good results. If your daily activities involve sitting or being stationary for longer periods of time, you should take breaks and try to move around or stretch every so often.

We all have different goals that we need to achieve and it is best to consult a professional trainer or weight loss adviser for an exercise plan that best suits you. Try to set achievable goals so as to avoid disappointment and discouragement along the way. You should also include your friends or family members in your workout for encouragement and motivation.


A lot of medicines for obesity have been clinically tested, but only one has turned out to be effective and safe: Orlistat. This medicine is only given when prescribed by a doctor who believes it is the right drug for you. It is available directly over the counter only if the pharmacist finds deems it suitable for you.

Orlistat is only recommended when:

  • You've made substantial effort to lose weight through exercising, changing your lifestyle or dieting.
  • Your body mass index is higher than 28, or you have other weight-related heath complications, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

The doctor will share with you the benefits and any possible side effects of Orlistat before prescribing this medication to you.

However, while Orlistat prevents you from gaining more weight, it does not directly help with weight loss. It works by preventing most of the fats from the food you consume from digesting and being absorbed into the body. Then, these undigested fats are released from your body as stool (faeces). For this reason, treatment with Orlistat must include other weight loss approaches, such as exercises and a balanced diet. It is also important to note that it is not recommended for breastfeeding or pregnant women.

Here are some common side effects of Orlistat:

  • Urgent and frequent need of the toilet
  • Fatty or oily faeces
  • Oily discharge from the rectum
  • Stomach pain
  • Flatulence
  • Headaches
  • Cold or any other respiratory tract infection

Sticking to a balanced, low-fat diet will help reduce the side effects of Orlistat. For women taking oral contraceptive pills, they should consider using other alternative methods of birth control while taking Orlistat, because the contraceptive pills may become ineffective.


Bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery) is sometimes recommended in cases of severe obesity. A person who falls under the following criteria should perhaps consider surgery:

  • Has a BMI of 35 or more, and another weight-related health condition that can get better with weight loss, or a BMI of 30 to 35 with a recent history of type 2 diabetes.
  • All other treatment methods have failed to work for him or her.
  • Should be fit enough to handle anesthesia and surgery.
  • Will undergo intensive management before, during and after surgery as part of the treatment.
  • Is willing to go through a long-term follow-up.

If a person has a BMI of 50 or above, bariatric surgery may recommended as a first treatment, even before trying other forms of treatment. 

Other Helpful Strategies

There are other important issues that you should bear in mind when undergoing the aforementioned treatments for best results. They are:

  • Set achievable weight loss goals to avoid disappointment. Losing even 3% of your body weight is a great achievement if you are obese.
  • Eat slowly and avoid distractions like watching TV when eating.
  • Avoid temptations that you know can cause you to overeat.
  • Keep your family and friends close during treatment for motivation.
  • Take note of your progress in a journal or diary - no matter how little it is. It will help.

As you continue to lose weight, your body will adjust to a lower intake of calories and it eventually become the norm. However, if you go back to the previous amount of calories you were taking before treatment, you will most likely gain weight again. It is important to maintain your diet and exercise program even after you've lost weight. This will help you maintain your new body weight and keep other weight-related complications at bay.