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Weight Loss from the Traditional to the Innovative

Weight loss is a struggle for millions of people the world over. The ready availability of foods that pack on pounds coupled with reduced need for physical activity have combined to make more people overweight than ever before in history. Excess weight brings other risks with it, like increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Loss of weight can reduce or eliminate some of these problems. Though people can and do lose massive amounts of weight using diet and exercise, some people require the help of drugs and sometimes surgery to fight dangerous levels of obesity.

At its most basic, the human body gains weight when it takes in more calories than it expends, and it loses weight when it burns more calories than it takes in. For people who gain a few pounds over the holidays or on vacation, cutting back for a few weeks, or adding more physical activity can usually get rid of any extra weight within a few weeks without being a huge challenge. Sometimes just eliminating dessert, or taking stairs instead of elevators can be enough of a difference to cause weight loss. However, for some people the approach must be more methodical, and they must make healthier food choices and make time for regular exercise in order to get rid of excess weight.

Weight loss drugs are a big industry, and there have been some weight loss drugs that have had to be removed from the market due to unforeseen side effects. Diethylpropion is one weight loss drug that works by suppressing the appetite. It acts on the brain’s appetite center, causing a temporary reduction in hunger and food cravings. However, people with heart disease, high blood pressure, or an overactive thyroid can’t take Diethylpropion. Phentermine is another appetite suppressant that works by causing the brain to release norepinephrine. Orlistat, also called Xenical, works differently. It blocks the absorption of fats so that fewer calories are absorbed. However, it has unpleasant side effects and must be used along with a low-fat diet.

People who are morbidly obese may qualify for weight loss surgery. Gastric bypass surgery reduces the size of the stomach drastically and reroutes part of the digestive system around the stomach. It is major surgery and can result in patients losing hundreds of pounds. A less invasive weight loss surgery is the “lap band” in which a band is placed around the stomach and tightened to reduce the size of the stomach, though not as much as gastric bypass surgery does. Weight loss surgery is usually reserved for those whose weight problems are life threatening and who have tried all other methods of weight loss and been unsuccessful.

Weight loss has become a very lucrative industry, particularly in Western nations where higher percentages of the population are overweight. While most people can take care of their weight problems through lifestyle changes like healthier food choices and increased exercise, some people may require the aid of weight loss drugs or even surgery to get their weight down to a healthy level.