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New Study: Some Americans are No Longer Trying to Lose Weight

May 20, 2017

Fact: It’s hard to lose weight.

It takes consistent effort, day in and day out, and a lot of mental, emotional and physical energy to stick with it long term.

But now a recent study indicates that some Americans may not be willing to make this effort.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that losing weight isn’t as high a priority for some Americans as it used to be. Researchers analyzed data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, looking at the percentage of adults from 1988 to 2014 who were overweight or obese who said they tried to lose weight in the last year.

From 1988 to 1994, nearly 56 percent of American adults had said they tried to lose weight, compared to 49 percent of adults from 2009 to 2014.

Researchers say they’ve seen an increased percentage of overweight people who believe nothing was wrong with their body weight, and that advances in medicine have helped people live longer even though they aren’t as healthy. This trend is concerning because obesity rates continue to increase in the country. Nearly 38 percent of American adults are obese and nearly 71 percent are overweight.

The numbers are moving in complete opposite directions, and that’s not a good thing. Obesity is linked to chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancers that are some of the leading causes of preventable deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

In my experience, most people have an earnest desire to be in good health, but I’ve seen

many patients in my office who have tried more times than they can count to lose weight. Losing weight is a process, and sometimes there are setbacks. Though this study indicates that some people have given up — not everyone has. There also may be underlying conditions like metabolic or hormonal issues or stress that make it more difficult for some people to lose weight. 

For people who have tried to lose weight and need additional help, bariatric surgery may be the right choice. If you are more than 100 pounds overweight, suffer from two serious health problems as a result and have been unable to lose weight and keep it off through diet and exercise, you may be a candidate for bariatric surgery. You also may qualify for weight-loss surgery if your body mass index ranges from 35 to 65 and you suffer health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure or sleep apnea.

Bariatric surgery isn’t a silver bullet, but it can help certain people who haven’t been able to achieve a healthy weight improve their health, if they’re willing to follow the recommendations of their care team and stick to a healthy lifestyle long term.

What this study indicates is that, unfortunately, overweight and obesity have become the new normal. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do everything we can to educate and encourage patients — especially those who are trying diligently to lose weight but haven’t yet achieved success. As doctors, it’s our responsibility to empower patients and give them all the tools they need to proactively make the right lifestyle changes, and to guide them toward interventions — bariatric surgery or otherwise — that make a significant difference in their quality of life and health outcome. By working together with patients, we can keep them from giving up when things get too trying and put them on the best path for good long-term health.

Are you curious about weight loss surgery?

Learn more about bariatric surgery, your options and our approach with a free 90-minute session with details on weight loss surgery and an opportunity to speak with a weight loss surgeon by making an appointment or calling (321)-8HEALTH.

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