Options for Losing Weight and Staying Healthy Throughout Life

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 11, 2014

Dr. Ali Tavakkoli

Losing weight is about more than looking good. It’s also important for your long-term health, especially if your body mass index is over 35. According to Ali Tavakkoli, MD, Co-Director of the Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), if an individual’s weight reaches a BMI of 40, life expectancy is reduced by eight to ten years, equivalent to being a lifelong heavy smoker.

Options for losing weight include lifestyle changes (diet and exercise), medications, and surgery (for patients with a BMI over 40 or a BMI of 35 with certain conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension). Within each of these options, patients have many additional choices.

The BWH Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery was created to help patients evaluate their weight loss options and streamline care. At the Center, weight management specialists, dieticians, and appropriate medical specialists provide each patient the appropriate dietary, nutritional, behavioral, and medical support to help them improve their health.

Watch a video with Dr. Tavakkoli to learn what patients can expect during an evaluation at the Center and the treatment options that are available.

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Obesity Treatment – Evaluating Your Options

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 7, 2014

There are a wide range of weight loss approaches, including lifestyle changes, medical therapies, and surgical treatments.

When it comes to treating obesity, there are many options. And, what may be ideal for one person may not be right for another.

“Many people with obesity are unsure which direction to take when it comes to losing weight,” explains Dr. Florencia Halperin, an endocrinologist and Co-Director of the Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery. “We believe that it is important for patients to understand all of the available treatment choices, including the benefits and drawbacks of each approach, so that they can make informed decisions.”

Dr. Halperin and bariatric surgeon Ali Tavakkoli, MD, Center Co-Director, provide consultation for patients regarding a wide range of approaches, including lifestyle changes, medical therapies, and surgical treatments, and work with them to develop an individualized plan based on needs and preferences.

“Often, we incorporate multiple strategies in the overall plan,” says Dr. Tavakkoli. “For example, some patients may desire to start with lifestyle modifications and medications. For patients with type 2 diabetes and certain lipid disorders, weight loss surgery has been shown to be a benefit and may be considered earlier, with continued treatment with lifestyle changes to ensure ongoing success.”

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Obesity and Waist Circumference Linked to Hearing Loss Risk

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 6, 2014

Maintaining a healthy weight may help prevent hearing loss in women.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) recently published study results demonstrating that a higher body mass index (BMI) and larger waist circumference are each associated with higher risk of hearing loss in women.

In a study of more than 68,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II who were followed over 20 years, the researchers found that when compared with women with BMI of less than 25, the risk for hearing loss was 17 percent higher for women with a BMI of 30 to 34, 22 percent higher for women with a BMI of 35 to 39, and 25 percent higher for women with a BMI of 40+. Compared with women with waist circumference of less than 28 inches, the risk for hearing loss for those with a waist circumference of 35 inches or more was 27 percent higher. In addition, a larger waist circumference was associated independently with increased risk of hearing loss, even after taking BMI into account. This suggests that central adiposity (or “belly fat”) may itself be a risk factor for hearing loss.

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Obesity Is Now a Disease

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 13, 2013

Comparing your waist circumference to your height is one method for assessing obesity.

Obesity is now a disease. That is the much publicized conclusion reached by the American Medical Association during its June 2013 annual meeting. While this doesn’t change how registered dietitians manage their clients seeking or needing weight loss, it may allow more physicians to refer their patients for nutritional counseling sooner and perhaps encourage more health insurers to cover nutritional consultations.

Some critics argue that labeling obesity as a disease may take the onus off individuals to alter lifestyle habits, such as improving eating choices and increasing physical activity level. Proponents of the obesity designation counter with the fact that other conditions like diabetes and heart disease are indeed diseases, despite them being better managed with lifestyle changes.

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