There are several ways to treat obesity and reach a healthier weight.

The most important way you can treat obesity is by changing your diet and adopting a healthier eating plan. It is important to reduce your calorie intake and to observe what you are currently eating so you can make changes.

Exercise and other physical activity help to lose weight. A person needs at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days of the week. But for significant weight loss, one needs between 45 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise five days per week. Set small goals at first, then increase your workouts. Increasing your normal daily activity will also boost your exercise level. Get up and move around periodically and take the stairs instead of the elevator.

One can also seek help to change the behaviors which lead to weight gain. Counseling sessions with a trained mental health professional or support groups like Weight Watchers will help with changing unhealthy behaviors and thoughts.

In certain situations, prescription weight-loss medication will also help. These must be taken under a doctor’s supervision, as there can be side effects. Weight loss medications are not a substitute for healthy eating and physical exercise. They should always be used in combination with a good diet and exercise plan.

Weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery, is mostly for those who are extremely obese and committed to making the lifestyle changes necessary for the surgery to work. Surgeries such as gastric bypass and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (Lap-Band) are other kinds of weight loss surgeries. Even though the surgeries do cause weight loss, complications due to the surgery and reduced food intake can cause complications such as gallstones and nutritional deficiencies. Bariatric surgery is only considered when a person’s previous attempts to lose weight have failed and their health is at risk due to obesity.

To learn more:

Dietary Guidelines for Americans: A Healthier You
(Department of Health and Human Services)
A 325-page resource that brings together nutrition science and expertise to help people make smart choices from every food group, find balance between food and physical activity, and get the most of out the calories that they consume. The resource can be seen through Adobe Acrobat Reader or can be ordered through the Department of Health and Human Services.
Finding Your Way to a Healthier You: Based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans
(Department of Heath and Human Services)
This supplement to “Dietary Guidelines for Americans: A Healthier You” gives tips on how people can eat the recommended daily value of each food group. Learn how to read the nutrition information on food labels and the right temperatures to cook and store foods.
Physical Activity
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Suggestions on how people of all ages can increase physical activity and exercise in their lives. Includes videos on physical activity guidelines.
Active at Any Size
(Weight-control Information Network, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease)
A guide to help people of any size get physically active. The guide offers various exercise ideas and links to resources for getting in shape.
Behavior Modification Ideas for Weight Management
(University of California, San Francisco Medical Center)
Suggestions on how to modify behavior to achieve weight loss.
Bariatric surgery for severe obesity
(Weight-control Information Network, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease)
Gives a brief description of the different types of bariatric surgeries. Includes sections about cost, whether surgery is right for you, and sources for more information.
Choosing a Type of Weight Loss Surgery
This Webpage shows and explains the different types of weight loss surgeries. It also explains the risks and gives questions to help people think about which surgery is right for them.
Weight loss surgery
Links to information about weight loss surgery. Includes videos, information for teens, men, and women, clinical trials, and more.

next » What do I need to know about obesity in children?

Written by: Maya Hollinshead B.A.
Reviewed by: Jeffrey G. Schultze, M.D.
Last Modified: Tuesday February 14, 2017 11:34 AM