Obesity :: Steps for safe and effective weight loss for overweight and obesity

In 1999, almost 108 million adult Americans were overweight or obese. If you are overweight or obese, carrying this extra weight puts you at risk for developing many diseases, especially heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. Losing this weight helps to prevent and control these diseases. Following guidelines provide you with a new approach for the measurement of overweight and obesity and a set of steps for safe and effective weight loss.

(From the Expert Panel on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults)

Weight loss to lower elevated blood pressure in overweight and obese persons with high blood pressure.

Weight loss to lower elevated levels of total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides, and to raise low levels of HDL-cholesterol in overweight and obese persons with dyslipidemia.
Weight loss to lower elevated blood glucose levels in overweight and obese persons with type 2 diabetes.

Use the BMI to assess overweight and obesity. Body weight alone can be used to follow weight loss, and to determine the effectiveness of therapy.
The BMI to classify overweight and obesity and to estimate relative risk of disease compared to normal weight.

The waist circumference should be used to assess abdominal fat content.

The initial goal of weight loss therapy should be to reduce body weight by about 10 percent from baseline. With success, and if warranted, further weight loss can be attempted.

Weight loss should be about 1 to 2 pounds per week for a period of 6 months, with the subsequent strategy based on the amount of weight lost.

Low calorie diets (LCD) for weight loss in overweight and obese persons. Reducing fat as part of an LCD is a practical way to reduce calories.

Reducing dietary fat alone without reducing calories is not sufficient for weight loss. However, reducing dietary fat, along with reducing dietary carbohydrates, can help reduce calories.

A diet that is individually planned to help create a deficit of 500 to 1,000 kcal/day should be an intregal part of any program aimed at achieving a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week.

Physical activity should be part of a comprehensive weight loss therapy and weight control program because it:
(1) modestly contributes to weight loss in overweight and obese adults,
(2) may decrease abdominal fat,
(3) increases cardiorespiratory fitness, and
(4) may help with maintenance of weight loss.

Physical activity should be an integral part of weight loss therapy and weight maintenance. Initially, moderate levels of physical activity for 30 to 45 minutes, 3 to 5 days a week, should be encouraged. All adults should set a long-term goal to accumulate at least 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week.

The combination of a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity is recommended since it produces weight loss that may also result in decreases in abdominal fat and increases in cardiorespiratory fitness.

Behavior therapy is a useful adjunct when incorporated into treatment for weight loss and weight maintenance.

Weight loss and weight maintenance therapy should employ the combination of LCD’s, increased physical activity, and behavior therapy.

After successful weight loss, the likelihood of weight loss maintenance is enhanced by a program consisting of dietary therapy, physical activity, and behavior therapy which should be continued indefinitely. Drug therapy can also be used. However, drug safety and efficacy beyond 1 year of total treatment have not been established.

A weight maintenance program should be a priority after the initial 6 months of weight loss therapy.

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