Other Weight Loss Options

There is certainly no shortage of choices for weight loss programs. In fact, to qualify for insurance coverage of weight loss surgery, many insurers require patients to have a history of medically supervised weight loss efforts.

Most non-surgical weight loss programs are based on some combination of diet/behavior modification and regular exercise. Unfortunately, even the most effective interventions have proven to be effective for only a small percentage of patients. It is estimated that less than 5% of individuals who participate in non-surgical weight loss efforts will lose a significant amount of weight and maintain that loss for a long period of time.

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 90% of all people in these programs regain their weight within one year. Sustained weight loss for patients who are morbidly obese is even harder to achieve. Serious health risks have been identified for people who move from diet to diet, subjecting their bodies to a continuing cycle of weight loss and gain known as "yo-yo dieting."

Weight Loss Surgery is Common

The fact remains that morbid obesity is a complex, multi-factor chronic disease. For many patients, the risk of death from not having the surgery is greater than the risks from possible complications of having the procedure. Due to its proven success in weight loss and resolution of weight-related illnesses, gastric bypass is one of the most commonly performed procedures for weight loss in the US.

Patients who have had the procedure are benefiting from its results and report improvements in their quality of life, social interactions, psychological well-being, employment opportunities and economic condition.

Diet & Behavior Modification

There are literally hundreds of diets available. Moving from diet to diet in a cycle of weight gain and loss — yo-yo dieting — stresses the heart, kidneys and other organs. Doctors who prescribe/supervise diets for their patients usually create a customized program with the goal of greatly restricting calorie intake while maintaining nutrition. These diets fall into two basic categories:

  • Low Calorie Diets (LCDs) are individually planned so the patient takes in 500 to 1,000 fewer calories a day than he or she burns.
  • Very Low Calorie Diets (VLCDs) typically limit caloric intake to 400 to 800 a day and feature high-protein, low-fat liquids.

Many patients on Very Low Calorie Diets lose significant amounts of weight. However, after returning to a normal diet, most regain the lost weight in under a year. Ninety percent of people participating in all diet programs will regain the weight they've lost within two years.

Behavior modification uses therapy to help patients change their eating and exercise habits. Like low-calorie diets, behavior modification results in short-term success for most patients that tends to diminish after the first year. However, even if you choose surgery, diet and behavior modification will be instrumental to sustained weight loss post-op.


Starting an exercise program can be intimidating for someone suffering from morbid obesity. Your health condition may make any level of physical exertion next to impossible. The benefits of exercise are clear, however. A National Institutes of Health survey of 13 studies concluded that physical activity:

  • results in modest weight loss in overweight and obese individuals
  • increases cardiovascular fitness, even when there is no weight loss
  • can help maintain weight loss

Even if you have a very high BMI, there are ways to get started with exercising:

  • Park at the far end of parking lots and walk
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Cut down on television
  • Swim or participate in low-impact water aerobics
  • Ride an exercise bike

Incorporating exercise into your daily activities will improve your overall health and is important for any long-term weight management program, including weight-loss surgery .

Over-the-Counter & Prescription Drugs

New over-the-counter and prescription weight loss medications have been introduced that some people have found effective in helping to curb their appetite. The results of most studies show that patients on drug therapy lose around 10 percent of their excess weight and the weight loss plateaus after six to eight months. As patients stop taking the medication, weight gain occurs.

Weight loss drugs can have serious side effects. Still, medications are an important step in the morbid obesity treatment process. Before insurance companies will authorize weight-loss surgery , you must follow a well-documented treatment path that may include medication.