It’s not as simple as diet and exercise. In some cases, achieving and managing a healthy weight can require professional assistance.

Obesity is a medical condition that is treatable when you have the right weight loss specialist and an individualized plan. At Memorial Hermann, we work with you to determine the root cause of the problem and then create a path forward to help you live a healthier life with sustainable weight loss.

Losing weight through diet and exercise, and then regaining it, is a frustrating cycle that repeats itself for many people. This struggle, combined with common weight-related conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, leaves patients discouraged about their ability to live healthy lives.

If you are struggling with obesity, our comprehensive program provides an in-depth assessment to determine which factors are driving weight gain along with a personalized treatment plan. Our goal is to help you experience a healthier and more active life.

What is Medical Weight Management?

Medical weight management (MWM) is a science-based medical program for people with obesity. The specially trained physicians affiliated with Memorial Hermann are on the forefront of obesity medicine, and strive to produce healthy outcomes for patients through individualized treatment plans. Our goal is to help you create and follow a physician-guided plan for weight loss and long-term wellness.

MWM programs are best suited for people who have not been able to effectively lose weight and keep it off. While MWM programs do not offer surgical weight loss options, they do collaborate with surgeons and often help patients lose weight in preparation for surgery or postoperative patients who have regained weight.

With a comprehensive medical plan that may include medications or other therapies, MWMs aim to bridge the gap between behavior and biology. Our team strives to help patients become better partners with themselves, apply healthy behaviors more consistently, and achieve health and weight goals in the both the short and long term.

Each patient has unique needs. To meet individualized weight-loss goals, MWM can include:

Causes of Obesity

People tend to focus only on diet and exercise, but there can be other causes of obesity. To reverse weight gain, treatment plans must be tailored to address the full range of driving factors.

Environmental

People dealing with obesity often interact with their environment in ways that make it difficult to lose weight. Environmental stressors like living with someone who is also overweight, struggling with family or work difficulties, or even having a long commute time can all interfere with the ability to focus on self-care and healthy living.

Psychological

Underlying mental health concerns, including depression and anxiety, can contribute to weight gain. Other psychological factors that can make it hard to lose weight include disordered eating habits, binge-eating behavior, negative self-talk, “all or nothing” thinking patterns and “people pleasing” personality types.

Behavioral

Sleep habits, physical activity, beverage selection and meal planning are all behavioral activities that can affect health and weight.

Inadequate sleep can be caused by insomnia, sleep apnea or certain medications, and it affects the ability to feel rested enough for exercise and quality physical activity during the day. Addressing an underlying sleep problem can have a significant impact on the ability to lose weight.

When people are tired from a poor night’s sleep, they may turn to caffeinated, high-calorie beverages like sugary sodas and coffee products for energy. Alcoholic beverages also contribute to excessive calorie intake and can disrupt sleep patterns. One of the fastest ways to gain weight is drinking too many calories, and people often overlook beverages as a cause of weight gain. In addition to sleep and drinking habits, eating without a structured plan can affect the ability to lose weight. Behaviors like skipping meals early in the day, followed by excessive hunger and overeating later, can be causes of weight gain. Without a good meal plan, people are likely to make poor food choices like fast food and processed foods because they run out of time.

Functional

Physical medical problems like arthritis, chronic pain, fibromyalgia or headaches can limit the ability to get enough exercise. Conditions that affect cognitive function, like autism or intellectual disability, can make it hard to understand and engage in healthy eating behaviors. Addressing these needs, first, can set a better foundation for working on weight loss.

Biological

One of the most common biological causes of obesity is insulin resistance. This condition causes glucose to accumulate in the blood and may lead to diabetes. Insulin resistance usually does not show symptoms and must be diagnosed with a laboratory test. Scientists have also discovered certain genetic and hormonal factors that may contribute to obesity.

Another biological consideration is increased appetite that can be caused by common drugs like beta blockers, insulin and mental-health medications.

How Does an MWM Program Work?

Obesity-medicine physicians and dietitians work together with patients to create a plan for sustainable weight loss and improved health.

A New Approach

Specialists affiliated with Memorial Hermann use a scientifically based medical approach to weight loss. The process is different from traditional weight loss models because it is a personalized plan that focuses on sustainable change and long-term follow up. Many patients have learned from earlier failed attempts that losing weight too quickly with fad diets or supplements is rarely successful and can also be very expensive.

The Program

The first visit is a comprehensive evaluation to determine the underlying causes of obesity and make recommendations for an individualized, medical treatment plan. This evaluation includes an in-depth discussion with the physician about the patient’s psychological, behavioral, and environmental history.

Other assessments include an electrocardiogram (EKG), body-composition analysis, resting metabolic rate analysis, and lab tests. Some patients may be referred for additional testing that could include a sleep study.

Once the treatment plan is established, patients will alternate visits with the physician and dietitian to implement the action steps. The plan may include medication, mental-health counseling, or behavior modifications.

The goals of the program are to achieve overall health improvement through sustainable weight loss and resolution or management of related conditions like sleep apnea, diabetes, high blood pressure and others.

Who is a Candidate for the MWM Program?

Most patients in a MWM program are at least 14 years old and have a body-mass index (BMI) greater than 30, or a BMI greater than 27 with an obesity-related medical condition. These related conditions include sleep apnea, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, prediabetes or insulin resistance.

Patients who are most successful with the program have a genuine interest in losing weight and improving overall health and are ready to actively start the process and adhere to the plan.

Let’s Get Started.

Find a medical weight management specialist affiliated with Memorial Hermann. Specialists are located throughout Greater Houston.

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