Sunday, August 30, 2009

Environmental Change: A Weapon to Fight Obesity

Environmental change as an effective and low cost approach to weight loss appears to be gaining more attention. Environmental change can promote lifestyle modification, which is the leading method used in weight loss and weight maintenance. The two key elements of lifestyle modification are diet and exercise. And environmental change can enable a person to lose weight by causing the person to modify his diet and exercise.

Along with overweight and obesity comorbidities such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, we are now learning that the brain shrinks with overweight and obesity. And as overweight and obesity increase in children, we will likely see more brain shrinkage as these children reach adulthood. So it is important to attack overweight problems in children as well as in adults. And lifestyle modification appears to be a good weapon.

It is now believed that heavy-handedness is not as effective in helping children fight overweight and obesity as a soft-touch approach. In essence, children should not be restricted from eating certain foods. They should be taught to regulate their food intake and eat healthy food. And parents can help their children by exposing them to healthy food in the home. Indeed, modifying the home environment to be conducive to healthy eating and exercise may lessen the amount of overweight and obese children.

Furthermore, changing the workplace environment may lessen the amount of overweight and obese adults. A study by Justin Trogdon, a consultant at RTI International, indicated that “environmental change interventions in work sites may be more likely to be cost saving than high-cost, individually targeted behavioral change interventions...” The interventions include nutritional programs, on-site gyms, and weight-loss competitions. The competitions include “contests that give overweight employees money if they succeed in shedding extra pounds ...”

So, environmental change may be an important component of lifestyle modification in the home, and a cost effective component of lifestyle modification in the workplace. Environmental change can be an aide in weight loss and weight maintenance which can reduce health care costs for employers.

So weight loss service and product providers should emphasize the importance of environmental change as an element in lifestyle modification. These providers should work with parents and employers to initiate environmental changes that motivate exercise and a healthy diet.

(Please leave a comment by clicking on the "COMMENTS" link at the lower right part of this blog post.)


Friday, August 21, 2009

Lifestyle Modification with Medical Counseling Can Lead to Weight Loss

Lifestyle modification — including diet and exercise changes — is known to be the most utilized weight loss method. However, lifestyle modification doesn’t lead to long term weight loss for many obese persons. But a recent study done at the University of Kentucky shows that lifestyle modification -- specifically diet change -- utilized with medical supervision can lead to quite respectable weight loss for obese persons. And there may be ways to maintain the weight loss long term.

The study-participants' diet was modified with the use of meal replacements. And medical supervision was combined with the meal replacements. This combination enabled obese-study participants to lose up to 16 percent of their initial body weight. The participants in the medically supervised program “lost an average 43.4 pounds in 19 weeks.” The meal replacements in the study were shakes, entrees, and bars.

Indeed, it has been shown before that the use of meal replacements can lead to weight loss. Among shakes, entrees and bars, specific examples of meal replacements include Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice packaged meals. The packaged meals enable a dieter to simply pick up a meal without having to worry about the calorie or nutritional content. And this can be quite convenient. Moreover, a 2003 Pub Med report indicated that meal replacements can be employed safely to enable one to lose weight and maintain the weight loss.

Still, maintaining the weight loss -- even with meal replacements -- can prove to be difficult. But modifying a lifestyle so that appropriate meal replacements are selected and used for the long term can be aided with external reinforcement from medical weight loss counselors. Bariatric centers can provide ongoing counseling to help the obese person continue to make the best choices and stick with a diet program. And long term counseling can be an important offering for a weight loss or bariatric services provider.

(Please leave a comment by clicking on the "COMMENTS" link at the lower right part of this blog post.)


Monday, August 10, 2009

An Anti-Obesity Chewing Gum

In the past, we have discussed lifestyle modification tools that can aid in weight loss. Now, the Switzerland based company, Ventana Biotech Inc, is working on another tool. The company is working on a chewing gum that might be an aid in weight loss. Of course, this wouldn't be the first time that chewing gum was employed to improve health.

Chewing gum is used to help smokers quit smoking. Chewing gum can serve as a substitute for smoking a cigarette, enabling a smoker to replace the smoking habit with chewing gum. Indeed, nicorette gum also gives the smoker a small amount of nicotine to reduce the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

And chewing sugar-free gum can help fight tooth decay. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), chewing gum containing the sugar substitute, xylitol, can prevent tooth decay.

Further, suggestions that chewing gum can be an aid in weight loss are not new. Contestants on the TV reality show, "The Biggest Loser," are told by the trainers and the nutritionists on the show to chew sugar free gum to help lose weight. And a 2007 Scotland study demonstrated that chewing gum can be an aid in weight management. Chewing gum can help as an aid in weight management because chewing gum can reduce hunger.

While chewing gum can reduce hunger, most chewing gum is not produced with an appetite suppressant as a key active ingredient. Ventana's gum contains an extract from the hoodia gordonii plant, and active ingredients in the plant can suppress appetite. Moreover, the gum is patented as an anti-obesity gum. The gum is currently in trials. And if the gum proves to be save and effective, Ventana hopes to license the gum to large pharmaceutical companies.

Indeed, if Ventana's chewing gum proves successful, it will be a useful tool for weight control. And the gum will be another weapon in the weight loss service provider' s arsenal.

(Please leave a comment by clicking on the "COMMENTS" link at the lower right part of this blog post.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bariatric Surgery: An Option That Might Reduce Health Care Costs

Most likely you've heard the following media report: Obesity accounts for $147 or almost 10% of the health care cost in the U.S. each year. You’ve also probably heard that the obesity market has unrealized potential. The potential is unrealized because most weight loss methods are not successful at providing long-term weight loss. However, since reducing obesity in the U.S. can reduce health care cost, finding ways to treat obesity is of the utmost importance. Perhaps, bariatric surgery could play a larger role in this treatment.

One obesity-related disease that has added to the increase in health care cost is diabetes. According to a 2008 Lewin Group study, the 2007 U.S. price tag for diabetes treatment was approximately $115 billion. And even when a diabetes patient has insurance, out-of-pocket cost for the patient can be significant.

For those with diabetes, losing weight can lead to a reduction in associated symptoms. Indeed, for morbidly obese persons with diabetes, appreciable weight loss can stop the progression of the disease in many cases. Therefore, weight loss methods that are safe and effective may be vital to reducing diabetes and health care costs.

There are three weight loss approaches. They are lifestyle modification, obesity drugs, and bariatric or weight loss surgery. Although bariatric surgery is probably the most effective method for treating obesity, patients receiving the surgery have experienced serious complications.

However, significant progress toward decreasing the bariatric surgery-complication rate has been made. For example, according to a HealthGrades study, patients who have bariatric surgery at five-star rated centers (as determined by HealthGrades) have a 67% lower chance of experiencing complications. And a new risk management system "presented ... at the 26th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS)" can reduce post surgical complications by 65%.

Therefore, bariatric surgery might play a more prominent role in the treatment of obesity -- and thus a more important role in the treatment of diabetes. This, in turn, could put a dent in health care costs.

Bariatric surgical providers should take note of the above-mentioned HealthGrades study and the above-mentioned risk management system. Adopting practices followed by five-star rated bariatric centers and following procedures related to risk management could improve surgical services, and give a weight loss surgical provider a competitive advantage.

(Please leave a comment by clicking on the "COMMENTS" link at the lower right part of this blog post.)
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