Do Weight Loss Clinics Work?
Two out of every three adults in America are either overweight or obese, but weight loss clinics may help some people get to and maintain a healthy weight long term. There are weight loss clinics and programs all over the country, and while many are credible, it’s important to do your research if you’re considering this option.
What is a Weight Loss Clinic?
A weight loss clinic or weight loss center helps people lose weight and learn strategies and approaches for staying healthy.
The best clinics will have trained clinicians, doctors and medical staff who will provide evidence-based approaches to help you in your weight loss journey. Some of these centers, called medical weight loss centers, focus on doctor-supervised plans that involve diet, exercise and supplements.
How to Choose a Weight Loss Clinic?
A credible weight loss clinic ideally should offer guidance under the supervision of a doctor or other trained medical professional.
However, there are some weight loss clinics where patients can easily get weight loss pills during a short visit and walk out without sharing a comprehensive medical history or getting medical advice from a doctor. These are the kinds of places you should avoid because they’re unsafe and likely won’t lead to sustainable weight loss.
Instead, find a facility that focuses on behavioral treatment, or lifestyle counseling, that will give you tools to make healthy choices and tips for how to incorporate exercise into your regular routine. Some of these strategies can include tracking what you eat and recording how much you exercise every week.
A good weight loss center also will provide information on proper stress management, the importance of sleep for a healthy lifestyle, the advantages and disadvantages of weight loss medications and will provide ongoing supervision and support while you’re in the program.
Any place that advertises a quick fix or touts that you’ll lose five or 10 pounds every week likely isn’t being truthful about the hard work it takes to lose weight and keep it off, so avoid any centers where the advertising seems too good to be true and isn’t based on research or medical evidence.
The best weight loss centers will help you understand that weight loss is a gradual, long-term process and will focus on behavioral treatment that empowers you to make changes that will improve your health.
What Happens When I Visit a Weight Loss Clinic?
When you visit a credible weight loss center, you’ll undergo an initial consultation where a clinician will ask about your health and medical history, your lifestyle and exercise habits and determine your body mass index (BMI), a measure of your weight in relation to your height.
The doctor or clinician then will design a weight loss program that is customized for you. Some patients may deal with multiple chronic conditions, while others may have physical limitations that make exercise more challenging or may be on medications that affect their ability to take weight loss supplements. Every patient is different, so a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t the best option for many people.
Some weight loss centers may focus on a low-calorie diet or meal replacement plan under the supervision of a doctor to increase weight loss when you first start the program. Others may focus on helping you lose one to two pounds a week with gradual dietary changes and low-impact exercises like walking. It all will depend on your weight, diet, exercise and medical history. Some centers may have you consider medications as well, but if weight regain occurs after you finish the program, bariatric surgery is also an option.
Is a Weight Loss Clinic Right for Me?
Generally, a weight loss program may be right for you if you have a BMI above 30, which is considered obese.
You should talk to your primary care doctor if you’re considering one of these programs. Your doctor should be able to refer you to a program that has qualified medical professionals and one that uses an evidence-based approach under the supervision of a doctor or clinician to help you lose weight.
Before you visit a center for your initial consultation, do your research and see if the clinic has published any peer-reviewed research in medical journals and if there have been any complaints about their approach from former patients or medical organizations. Visit their website to see what their program entails, how long the program lasts, whether the center accepts insurance and how much the program will cost if it doesn’t. All these details, along with your experience during your consultation, will help you make a decision about whether you’re ready to make this commitment and whether that particular center is the best place for you to achieve your weight loss goals.
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