Definition and Overview

Weight loss consultation is an appointment between the patient and a consultant, who can be the primary health provider, nutritionist, or a dietitian.

Obesity is one of the fastest-growing epidemics around the world. It increases the risk of dreaded diseases including diabetes, heart disorders, and certain types of cancer. It also promotes disability and leads to mental issues such as depression, as well as hormone imbalances.

Obesity is also detrimental to the economy as it boosts health care costs. Many obese patients are also usually charged higher in terms of insurance premiums, and some studies point how it discriminates them from receiving fair wages and opportunities in the workplace.

Reducing weight to obtain the intended goal, however, is not easy, since obesity is complex. As more research are published, they reveal that many factors can contribute to both weight gain and weight loss. Although diet and exercise are two of the most common ones, they can also be affected by sleep, hormones, genetics, and environmental factors including exposure to everyday toxins or pollutants.

Weight loss consultation therefore is necessary to:

  • Help evaluate the cause or trigger of weight gain
  • Address the root cause
  • Assist the patient in both reducing and maintaining the ideal weight
  • Provide resources that will make the weight loss process faster and easier for the patient
  • Recommend the best weight loss options based on certain factors and patient’s unique circumstances

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

Weight loss consultation is recommended to people who:

  • Are clinically classified as either overweight or obese – Many tools are now being used by doctors to assess the risk of obesity of a person. These include body mass index (BMI), which is the measurement of body weight in relation to the person’s height, as well as the waist circumference, which detects central obesity. Also known as visceral obesity or abdominal obesity, central obesity is considered to be the most dangerous accumulation of fat since it develops within the abdominal cavity and is close to vital organs such as the liver and the pancreas, which secretes a hormone called insulin.

  • Need to undergo weight loss surgery – In some cases, patients may have to undergo weight loss surgery to immediately reduce the weight and the high risk of dying from a dreaded disease. It can also improve mobility and productivity of the patient.

  • Have to make a disability claim – Some countries such as the United Kingdom now allow morbidly obese patients to file for a disability claim, provided they participate in a weight loss program.

  • Have to undergo surgical operations – It’s possible that the surgery is not weight related. However, before the patient can be operated, he needs to reach an ideal weight first.

  • Have a desire to have children – This is especially true for women who are diagnosed with metabolic issues such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This syndrome is linked to insulin resistance, which is triggered by a significant amount of weight gain.

  • Are having difficulty losing weight - Weight gain is not a straightforward problem as it can be caused by many things, including hormonal imbalance and genetics.

A weight loss consultation can be helpful in addressing all concerns that pertain to obesity, health, weight gain, hormones, and metabolism, to name a few. It can be used to identify the root cause of the problem, provide the necessary treatment, and assist as well as track the progress of the patient toward achieving the right weight.

These consultations, however, do not always guarantee a solution, and it’s not all the time that the solutions are reached during the first consultation.

How Does the Procedure Work?

Anyone who has issues with weight gain or obesity can directly approach a family physician, general doctor, internist for adults, pediatricians for children, endocrinologist, cosmetic and bariatric surgeons, nutritionists, and dietitians, to name a few.

In the face-to-face consultation, the doctor first gathers information about the patient’s concerns. He may also ask about:

  • Weight loss goals
  • Lifestyle such as diet, exercise, smoking, and alcohol
  • Medical history including existing illnesses
  • Family history
  • Personal steps undertaken to reduce weight and their effect
  • If the patient has been overweight throughout his life
  • How the weight gain affects the mental and physical health of the patient
  • Medications taken that may be related to weight gain (e.g., steroids)
  • Level of stress

The doctor also conducts activities like taking the patient’s height, weight, waist circumference, BMI, blood pressure, and heart rate, among others. He may request a blood test to detect problems with hormones, as well as risk of diabetes and hypertension. In some cases, imaging exams like X-rays or ultrasounds are carried out, especially when the patient needs to undergo surgery.

Once the results come in, the doctor and the patient discuss the weight loss program, taking into consideration the patient’s current health, objective, and capacity to lose the intended weight. The succeeding consultations will be about monitoring the progress.

If the patient cannot attend a face-to-face consultation, it may be conducted online or by telephone.

Possible Risks and Complications

Weight loss consultations don’t always provide the right or best answers, and the patient may be forced to attend many sessions before a solution can be developed. Also, there’s the risk of dealing with somebody who doesn’t have an in-depth knowledge, experience, and expertise in the field. Worse, they may introduce therapies that may be dangerous or life-threatening.

It is therefore essential that before a patient sees a weight loss expert, he knows and has double-checked the credentials of the doctor.

References:

  • Robinson E, Aveyard P, Daley A, Jolly K, Lewis A, Lycett D, Higgs S. Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and awareness on eating. Am J Clin Nutr. April 2013;97(4):728-42.

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HealthyPeople.gov, Nutrition and Weight Status. http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/objectiveslist.aspx?topicid=29. Accessed June 5 2014.

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