Weight control

Specialty of Nutrition & dietetics

What is weight management?     

Weight management is a strategy to stay healthy and prevent future diseases. It is quite often used for people who have a chronic illness. However, it is more often used for people who need to lose or put on weight, in stages of growth, and for people who have eating disorders.

Maintaining a healthy weight can help control cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. It can also help prevent weight related diseases (heart diseases, diabetes, arthritis, and some types of cancer).  

Eating too much or not doing enough exercise can also lead to weight gain. In order to maintain a healthy weight the calories consumed should be equivalent to the energy used, and for weight loss, less calories than are burnt should be consumed.

Weight monitoring and the ideal weight are often linked to the trend to lose weight that is prevalent in today’s society. The body mass index (BMI) is used to calculate what your ideal weight should be: weight (lbs)/height (ft). It calculates what weight range the person is in, and is only applicable to adults. A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. 

Why would you do it? 

Weight management is used to keep the body healthy, according to body type and needs. This is particularly important for patients with chronic diseases (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or obesity for example), but also for patients who need to lose weight and for those who need to gain weight. 

It is also useful to assess and monitor growth in the infant stage, and to check that enough nutrients are being ingested. It is quite often used in cases of eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, and to help recovery after illnesses or surgery.

What does it involve?

It is a series of methods and procedures to ensure that the patient is getting the correct intake of food. Weight control diets should not only focus on caloric intake and weight loss, but they should ensure that the person is following a balanced diet without nutritional deficiencies. The specialist may recommend having 5 meals a day, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding unhealthy snacks, among other recommendations.

The aim of weight management programmes is to modify eating habits, so that the patient reaches a healthy weight from a clinical and aesthetic point of view. All weight management programmes should be personalised to promote metabolic adaptations maintaining results over time, as well as teaching the patient how to avoid weight fluctuations.      

Even though many diets involve calorie restriction, weight control should be influenced by the distribution of intake rather than the quantity.   

How to prepare for it

If a patient decides that they want to start a weight loss or weight management programme, they should see a doctor so that they can assess their weight and potential health risks, as well as determine the patient’s real needs (weight loss or weight gain for example) and what can help them make informed decisions relating to weight management.  

Before embarking on any kind of weight management treatment, it is important to bear in mind that:  

  • Motivation is crucial when starting a nutrition treatment.  
  • The targets set should be reasonable: the ideal weight means a person is healthier and has a better quality of life.   
  • Weight loss should be gradual and permanent, avoiding big fluctuations. Weight loss maintained over time favours the reduction of fat deposits, limits protein loss, and prevents the basal metabolic rate from decreasing.
  • The diet should be balanced, without causing micronutrient deficiencies as these can worsen the patient’s health.
  • The diet should be varied, avoiding meal monotony, which could demotivate the patient and make it difficult for them to succeed.      

Post treatment care    

The main task after weight management treatment is to maintain the routines and healthy habits acquired thanks to the help of the nutrition and dietetics specialist.  

Obesity is a major health and nutrition problem in today’s society. Excess body fat can raise your chances of digestive, respiratory, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as osteoarthritis or cancer. Thus it is not only an aesthetic matter, it is also a health issue.      

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