Fad diets, ineffective short-term solutions to longer-term weight issues

Fad diets can take many forms and are popular because they promise quick weight loss, are relatively easy to implement and claim remarkable results. Do any of these claims sound familiar? “Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!” … “Eat as much as you want and still lose weight!” … “Try the thigh buster and lose inches fast!”

For the one in three Americans who are obese, these headlines may seem like the answer to their problems. However, the reality is that fad diets provide temporary weight loss, and their results are rarely permanent,” said Eric Schlesinger, M.D., FACS, a board-certified general surgeon specializing in bariatric surgery at Surgical Weight Loss Solutions at Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital.

Weight loss through fad dieting is usually rapid in the beginning phases of the diet, but tapers off as the program progresses. Additionally these diets become tedious, boring and expensive. In most cases, any weight lost through fad dieting is regained along with additional pounds — as individuals resume old eating behaviors, sedentary lifestyle habits, or do not address the core issues related to their weight gain. This can lead to “yo-yo” dieting and mounting frustration.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), bariatric surgery is the only proven effective treatment for those suffering from severe and morbid obesity. Below, Dr. Schlesinger answers questions about surgical weight loss.

What is bariatric surgery and who is the best candidate?  

Bariatric surgery involves surgically altering the GI tract thereby changing how the body processes food. Bariatric surgery provides marked and reliable weight loss as well as significant improvement or complete remission of most of the medical disorders that accompany obesity. In addition, bariatric surgery is safe with a low risk of complications and a short hospital stay.

Typically, a patient must be morbidly obese in order to qualify for weight loss surgery. A person is considered morbidly obese if he or she has a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, generally 100 or more pounds overweight. A person with a BMI of 35 or higher who suffers from two or more serious health issues related to their weight may also be a candidate. While weight loss surgery is not for everyone, it serves as a viable option with long-term health benefits for people suffering from morbid obesity.

What are the different types of bariatric surgery? 

There are several different types of weight loss surgery. At Surgical Weight Loss Solutions, we offer four bariatric procedures: gastric bypass, gastric banding, vertical sleeve gastrectomy and duodenal switch, all designed to treat obesity a little differently. The gastric band causes a person to feel full after eating less food than previously, while gastric bypass, vertical sleeve gastrectomy and duodenal switch have additional effects on a person’s metabolism.

The duodenal switch weight loss procedure is considered extremely powerful and effective for long-term weight loss. Currently, Surgical Weight Loss Solutions is the only location in Arizona to offer this service. In this procedure, the stomach is reduced by up to 80 percent of its original size and much of the small intestine is excluded from the food stream. Although individual results may vary, duodenal switch patients experience the greatest weight loss, and weight regain is virtually unheard of.

How will patients know which procedure is right for them?

There are many resources available to individuals who are determining their most viable surgical option. It’s important to get informed about the many weight loss programs, surgical procedures, benefits and potential risks that come with undergoing a procedure like this. Those considering bariatric surgery should attend small group seminars and individual consultations with specialized physicians. When it comes to weight loss surgery, a one-size-fits-all approach simply does not apply. Each person must be individually evaluated. Only then can he or she be matched with the procedure that will best address their needs, behavior and medical conditions.

What factors does the candidate need to consider when selecting a doctor?

Choosing a surgeon can be a daunting task, but it is very important. Candidates should ask about the type of procedures the surgeon performs, if they are board-certified, and if the surgery will be performed in a designated Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence (COE) by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS)/ American College of Surgeons (ACS). To earn and maintain a COE designation, surgical weight loss centers specifically are put under stringent standards of practice and overall excellence. Equally important to a qualified surgeon is the existence of a comprehensive weight loss program. Services should begin when a patient first enters an office, and should continue through insurance approval, surgical preparation, surgery, and post-operative lifestyle changes. Nutritional education, counseling and physical exercise should also be tailored to your conditions, needs and preferences.

Eric Schlesinger, M.D., FACS, is a board-certified general surgeon specializing in bariatric surgery at Surgical Weight Loss Solutions at Tempe St. Luke’s. For a referral to a bariatric surgeon or another type of specialist, call 1-877-351-WELL (9355).

This information is provided by Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital as general information only and is not intended to replace the advice of a physician.