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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Bariatric Surgery: A Way to Beat Your Genes

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 22, 2013

Theresa poses with her support staff, Shaun and Shaun, Jr., at a family wedding after her surgery.

Overeating, poor nutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle are three of the biggest culprits for our nation’s obesity crisis. All these factors are largely controllable, but, left unchecked, they become more and more difficult to overcome over time. Sometimes, however, life presents individuals with circumstances that promote obesity and are simply beyond their control. That was the case with Theresa Carr, 32, of Tewksbury, MA.

Theresa admits that her own actions contributed to her being overweight, but her situation became worse after she developed polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that causes an imbalance in a woman’s hormones. This imbalance, in turn, can cause irregular periods, infertility, depression, weight gain, and difficulty in losing weight.

Dr. Scott Shikora, Director, Center for Metabolic Health and Bariatric Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, suggests that Theresa’s experience is a good example for those who believe that bariatric surgery is a shortcut for patients who should simply exercise more or work harder to eat less. “What they’re failing to realize is that while bad eating habits certainly do play into this, it’s often genetics,” explains Shikora. “And people can’t beat their genes.”

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