There are two different types of weight-loss programs available--clinical and non-clinical. Knowing what a good program will offer and what to watch out for may help you choose a weight-loss plan that will be successful for you.
A non-clinical program may be commercially operated, such as a privately owned weight-loss chain. You can follow a non-clinical program on your own by using a counselor, guide book, website, or weight-loss product. You can also join others in a support group, worksite program, or community-based projects. Non-clinical weight-loss programs may require you to buy and use the program's foods or supplements.
A safe and effective non-clinical program will offer books, pamphlets, and websites that are written or reviewed by a licensed health professional such as a medical doctor (M.D.) or registered dietician (R.D.). It should provide you with balanced information about following a healthy eating plan and instruct you about getting regular physical activity. Leaders or counselors in such programs should show you their training credentials, since they may not be licensed health professionals.
A few cautions about non-clinical weight loss programs. If a program requires you to buy packaged meals, find out how much the meals will cost--they may be beyond your budget. Also, by eating the prepackaged meals, you do not learn the food selection and cooking skills you will need to maintain weight loss over the long term. Avoid any diet plan that suggests you eat a certain formula food, or combination of foods for "fast and easy" weight loss. Some of these diets work in the short term because they are low in calories, but they may not provide all the nutrients and minerals your body needs and they do NOT teach healthy eating habits.
Avoid any program that does not include a physical activity plan. To lose weight and keep it off effectively, you must use more calories than you consume. And finally, talk to your health care provider before using any weight loss product, such as a supplement, herb, or over-the-counter medication.
Clinical weight-loss programs are services that are provided in a health-care setting, such as a hospital or clinic. One or more licensed health care professionals, such as doctors, nurses, dietitians, and/or psychologists, provide care and treatment suggestions.
Clinical programs may offer services such as nutrition education, physical activity, and behavior change therapy. Some programs offer prescription weight-loss drugs or gastrointestinal surgery. If your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or more, you may consider using prescription weight-loss drugs. These drugs should be used as part of an overall program that includes long-term changes in eating and physical activity habits. Only a licensed health care provider can prescribe these drugs.
If your BMI is 35 or more and you have weight-related health problems such as diabetes or heart disease, you may consider gastrointestinal surgery (also known as bariatric surgery). Most patients lose weight quickly, and many keep off most of their weight with a healthy eating plan and regular physical activity. However, as with most surgeries, there are risks. Bariatric surgery may reduce the amount of vitamins and minerals your body can absorb and may cause gallstones.
It is never easy to change lifelong habits, especially eating and physical activity behavior. But, it CAN be done. The results will be a happier, healthier, more confident and satisfied you!
Larry Denton lives in Hobson, Montana and is currently V.P. of Elfin Enterprises, Inc., an Internet business providing valuable information on a variety of timely topics. For a gym full of information, resources and advice about weight loss, visit http://www.WeightLossWill.com or http://www.ObesityAide.com