There is no treatment cure for severe clinical or morbid obesity. Despite the fact that obesity is a disease of excessive body fat – typically caused by eating more calories than are burned – and in theory is easily preventable or curable, treatments have a mixed success rate, with only the most drastic and compulsive type of treatment – like distal gastric bypass – having significant success.
Need For Viable Treatments For Morbid Obesity
In view of the surge in obesity and weight-related disease, in both adults and children, more successful long term solutions to obesity are urgently needed. According to medical estimates, patients who are morbidly obese who do not receive treatment have only a 1 in 7 chance of reaching their normal life expectancy.
Current Types of Morbid Obesity Treatment
Medical interventions for severe clinical obesity include:
(1) Very-low-calorie (or liquid) diet, exercise therapy, lifestyle counseling.
The average medical weight reduction trial using this treatment method is a 10-12 week study with average weight loss of 5.5 pounds.
(2) Use of weight loss drugs in combination with diet and exercise therapy.
In a 4-year study, incorporating the use of obesity drugs, behavior modification, diet and exercise, the final average weight loss was 3 pounds in those who were followed for the four years of the study.
(3) Bariatric obesity surgery (eg. gastric bypass, banding, stomach gastrectomy) with post-operative dietary and exercise regime.
According to most surveys of patients after gastric surgery, the beneficial results of obesity surgery exceed all other treatment methods by a significant margin. Even allowing for weight regain, which typically is much higher among patients after stomach banding than stomach bypass, weight loss after bariatric treatment regularly averages 30-40 percent of initial starting weight. If the patient is well motivated and given lifelong support, the weight loss is usually permanent. Furthermore, improvement of co-morbid conditions is also well-documented. That said, whether bariatric treatment for morbid obesity is a viable treatment option for more than a small minority of the obese population is open to doubt.
How to Improve Non-Surgical Treatment for Morbid Obesity
At present, according to the National Institutes of Health, weight reduction using non-surgical treatment methods is generally non-sustainable. However, certain points need to be noted.
- First, if conventional dietary and exercise treatments were resourced in line with bariatric treatments, weight loss results might be significantly higher.
- Second, most bariatric surgeons would concur that a patient’s chances of losing weight and maintaining it over the long term depend upon lifetime adherence to post-operative dietary and exercise guidelines – something that requires long term if not lifetime support. If conventional dieters received this level of long term support, their weight loss might be significantly improved.
- Thirdly, as the root causes of morbid obesity typically start in childhood, no definitive conclusions as to the efficacy of obesity treatment can be reached in the absence of a proper educational program relating to food, nutrition and healthy eating.