There has been a recent shift in the world of weight loss. More and more individuals are advocating for and engaging in weight loss treatments. This has something to do with the American obesity crisis and medical culture in general. However, the true causes of weight loss treatments becoming so popular have yet to be thoroughly discussed. This is where we come in. We will explore the reasons behind the rise in the popularity of weight loss treatments, some select weight loss treatments, and the American obesity crisis in general.
The American Obesity Crisis
The United States has an obesity crisis. Over two-thirds of Americans are now overweight, and 40% are obese. Obesity is responsible for the second most preventable deaths in the U.S., second only to smoking. It can cause a host of health issues, ranging from hypertension and coronary artery disease to fatty liver disease, arteriosclerosis, low testosterone, diabetes, sleep apnea, and much much more. In fact, the negative health consequences of obesity are so extensive that we cannot even attempt to make an exhaustive list of them. The obesity crisis in the United States is also having widespread effects beyond just health. Military recruitment is down because fewer and fewer Americans can pass the physical tests required. Airlines are increasingly adding additional fees for obese individuals who cannot fit in a single airplane seat. These widespread deleterious societal effects are felt throughout the nation, and they have led to the rise of weight loss treatments in popularity as a treatment for obesity.
Weight Loss Treatments’ Popularity
The popularity of weight loss treatments stems largely from the necessity for them in order to combat the obesity crisis, as well as U.S. medical culture in general. The most common treatment for obesity in years past was simply diet and exercise, which has been shown to be relatively inadequate as a tool, as healthy dietary habits and information about them have proliferated widely in the past few years with no corresponding decrease in the obesity rate. In the 1950s, amphetamines would oftentimes be prescribed for obesity as an appetite suppressant. However, this course of treatment was not always effective, and it carried many side effects, such as heightened blood pressure, dizziness, nausea, headaches, and great addiction potential. For this reason, the evolution of new classes of drugs and procedures for the treatment of obesity has been very important to the ongoing battle against obesity in the United States.
The U.S., in general, has a very strong culture of prescription drugs and medical intervention in patients’ lives. Our culture is known for being one of the only ones in the world that allow direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising. Consequently, many medications in the United States have been historically overprescribed. Doctors in the United States are far more likely to prescribe medication to patients, and patients are far more likely to be dissatisfied with their doctor visits if they do not receive a prescription. This dependence on pharmaceuticals in this country is a large part of the reason for the popularity of new weight loss treatments. Given the relative failure of diet and exercise alone to curb the obesity crisis and the U.S. tendency to rely on pharmaceutical solutions, there has been a sharp rise in the variety of weight loss treatments available to the public. Some of these are purely pharmaceutical in nature, while some are cosmetic procedures or surgical procedures.
What is the Most Common Treatment for Obesity
We are going to discuss the most common treatments for obesity thus far, without including the newer forms of treatment that will be listed and engaged with later.
Diet & Exercise
The most common treatment for weight loss is diet and exercise. It is relatively simple, conceptually, to lose body fat by dieting and increasing your activity level. Your body has a TDEE or total daily expenditure, which is the amount of energy in calories (a calorie is a unit of energy) that you expend each day through activity and normal biological function. This total daily energy expenditure is the point below which you must eat and exercise in order to lose body fat. This is called a negative energy balance. If you are in a negative energy balance, meaning you consume fewer calories than you expend, you will lose body fat. It is that simple in theory. There are various online calculators that you can input your height, weight, and activity level into and get your total daily energy expenditure back. Then it is just a matter of tracking your food intake to ensure that it is below that level.
Another common treatment for obesity is psychological therapy. This is because there are certain mental conditions, such as binge eating disorders, which can result in obesity. Even if a formal mental illness is not at play, many people simply have an unhealthy psychological relationship with food. They eat when in a variety of negative emotional states, such as boredom or sadness. They thereby comfort themselves with food, causing an unhealthy relationship with it. A mental health professional can, with counseling, help you to address the root cause of your problematic relationship with food and set you on the right path to re-evaluate and change it.
Another potential option for the treatment of obesity is bariatric surgery. This is a surgical procedure in which the stomach and intestines are physically manipulated to be smaller or absorb fewer nutrients, facilitating weight loss. To put it simply, the stomach and intestines are surgically altered to make them hold less food and absorb fewer nutrients. This is typically a last resort as it is an invasive surgery, and it is reserved only for those whose obesity is already causing them adverse health effects. There are a variety of types of bariatric surgery. However, all of them require a future adjustment in diet and activity level in order to maintain the weight loss achieved by the procedure.
Select Weight Loss Treatments
We are going to go over some of the newer weight loss treatments available, ranging from prescription medications to cosmetic procedures. We will also go over some of the risks and potential benefits associated with each treatment.
These are a class of medications that imitate the hormone incretin, which is responsible for bodily satiety. These medications, such as semaglutide, mimic the hormonal state of feeling full. This means that while on these medications, patients feel fuller for longer from a smaller quantity of food. This makes dieting by caloric restriction far easier and more likely to succeed. It is still necessary to be in a negative energy balance to lose any weight, but with GLP-1 agonists, the process is far easier because patients are simply not as hungry as they would be without the medication. This is a very effective weight loss treatment that has received much attention in the media as of late by virtue of its use by many celebrities. These medications are extraordinarily effective, and as long as your eating issue is not purely psychological, this treatment should help with it.
Fat freezing, or cryolipolysis is a weight loss cosmetic procedure by which extremely cold temperatures are used to destroy fat cells. The procedure is typically performed in a doctor’s office or outpatient facility, and in the procedure, the chosen area for treatment is put in a clamp which will then cool down to freezing temperatures, destroying the fat cells underneath but leaving the skin cells intact. The purpose of this procedure is localized fat loss to the treated area. Unfortunately, cryolipolysis carries some potentially devastating unwanted side effects. For example, cryolipolysis carries with it the risk of paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, which is when, instead of decreasing, the number of fat cells in the affected area multiplies. This unfortunate potential side effect is a good reason to pursue other options, such as laser lipolysis.
The procedure for injection lipolysis is relatively simple. The patient is prepared, and the chosen areas for treatment are marked off. Then a substance called deoxycholate or phosphatidylcholine, or a mixture of the two, is injected into the body fat on the chosen area subcutaneously (under the skin). The deoxycholate or phosphatidylcholine is a lipolytic agent or a chemical that causes fat cell disruption and eventually death. This results in a reduction in adipose tissue in the chosen area. This method of body sculpting, unfortunately, can have some severe side effects. Side effects include but are not limited to scarring, skin discoloration, and knots under the skin. Additionally, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) has cautioned against the use of such procedures in the past.
This cosmetic procedure involves the use of radio waves to heat fat deposits in the body until they are destroyed. The process is similar to other types of cosmetic procedures in that the patient is prepared, and the area to be treated is marked off. Then with the application of a device one centimeter from the body, radio waves are fired into the fat deposit. The radio waves pass through the skin harmlessly and then heat up the fat inside the body, eventually killing the fat cells in the treated area. This is a permanent fat loss solution, as the fat cells are dead and gone afterward. Typically, a cooling device is utilized at the same time to keep the skin at a comfortable temperature during the procedure. This procedure is relatively side effect free, with the most common side effects being redness and heating in the affected area, as well as some tissue tenderness.
This procedure, also referred to as “laser lipo,” involves the application of a low-intensity laser to the fat areas you wish to lose. Lasers can generate singular-directional light and heat to a minimal area. With laser lipo, the technician will target the cell with the laser. The laser penetrates the skin, reaches the targeted fat cells, and bores a tiny pore into the cellular membrane. In addition to creating the small hole, the laser emulsifies (melts) the lipids inside the cell, which allows them to seep through the pore.
The body’s lymphatic system then naturally disposes of the lipids. Emerald Laser by Erchonia works differently from other laser lipolysis methods. Emerald’s system uses ten 532 nanometer lasers to target fat cells. While the system allows the cells to drain, they remain intact. Other laser systems destroy the fat cells, which can lead to fatty deposits developing in other areas of the body.
Additionally, Emerald Laser is relatively painless when compared to other laser systems. Most patients don’t feel anything at all. Laser lipolysis is a minimally invasive weight loss method that targets body fat exclusively. It is innovative and relatively new. Laser lipolysis by Emerald Laser is the first FDA-approved laser lipolysis process.
We are the leading developers of the latest in laser lipolysis technology. Check us out and find a provider near you!