Our Experts, Your Health

It Takes a Team to Manage Obesity

Each year, many men and women resolve to lose weight and get in shape. Some people fight their weight on a daily basis. What makes losing and keeping weight off so difficult?  To answer the question, you need to understand the causes of weight gain and obesity.  There is no simple answer, but experts agree that it is about a lot more than will power.

We do not know all of the causes of this complex condition, but research continues to find new treatments and prevention methods. What is important to remember is that obesity is not a simple matter of diet and physical activity. It is a chronic relapsing condition that requires comprehensive care. There is no “magic pill.”  The body is designed to defend its weight at all costs, creating a physiological drive to return the body to its peak adult weight. That’s why it is so easy to re-gain pounds after a temporary diet. Understanding this fight can help you and your medical provider set realistic expectations about how much you should weigh.

There are many programs and products out there today that are marketed as a “cure” for obesity. These products often make outrageous claims about the time and effort it takes to lose a significant amount of weight. These products have little or no research to back up their claims. That’s why medical experts recommend that before embarking on any weight management program, you should look at the clinical evidence and not the number of pounds that patients are claiming to lose.  Remember if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

In order for you to be successful at weight loss and especially weight maintenance it is important to set realistic expectations and goals.   A modest weight loss of 5% to 7% can produce significant health benefits.  Weight loss is not just about pants size but rather about your health.

For people struggling with obesity, there are two good options to lose weight that are clinically-proven and research-based. Those options are medical weight management and bariatric surgery, and both are offered by an expert team at the Billings Clinic Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism Center.

Metabolic/bariatric surgery is a medically proven option for sustainable weight loss and a good option for people with a high BMI who have chronic conditions or who have tried other methods of losing weight with no success. It’s important to remember, however, that weight regain can occur with surgery if the patient is not following up with their medical team and practicing self-care.

Billings Clinic’s medical weight management program, called Weight Smart, is based on clinical evidence and the four pillars of weight management: nutrition, physical activity, behavior modification, and metabolism.

Medical weight management can mean many different things. For some, it’s a last e
ffort to lose weight without surgery.  For some, it’s extra support on their journey.  For others, it means managing other health conditions that are causing or worsened by increased weight.

Weight Smart is a 6 to 7 month program that includes frequent visits with a physician or nurse practitioner, registered dietitian, certified personal trainer and licensed clinical social worker. The program is designed for patients with a BMI greater than 30 who are ready for life-style changes. Patients will need to check with their insurance provider to make sure they have coverage for weight management or a self-pay option is available.  More information is available at or by calling 406-238-2500 and asking for the Metabolism Center.

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