Weight loss takes combined effortBy Charles E. Buban
Philippine Daily Inquirer
How many times have you dieted and have just given up? Many people tend to think that all obese people have to do to solve their problems is eat less and move more. But one expert believes that the reason is much deeper—it’s almost an addiction much like alcoholism and drug abuse.
“Foods full of fat, sugar and salt release ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain’s reward center and over time we associate the change in mood with eating certain foods. In time, these foods then become addictive because we want to feel good,” explains Dr. Hildegardes Dineros, a pioneer and leader in the bariatric and metabolic surgery field in the Philippines.
And just like addiction to other substances, binging on these foods loaded with sugar, salt and fat is extremely difficult to stop.
Dineros adds that if some individuals contend that they cannot control their intake, they may have a reason for believing so because these rich, sweet and fatty foods could stimulate their brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with the pleasure center.
“In the process, the brain is ‘rewired,’ affecting the primitive reward centers in such a way that the dopamine pathways light up even at the thought of eating these foods,” he says.
This is one reason an obese person—one that has a Body Mass Index of 30 or more—must seek professional help (BMI is a calculation of weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared).
“The reasons for gaining excessive weight gain and inability to control its progression vary by individual. It’s not their fault because obesity could be caused by age, gender, genes, psychological makeup, environmental factors or combinations of a number of these factors. A group of experts should be able to finally formulate a more effective solution,” Dineros says.
For these reasons, he shares that even those who have already undergone weight loss surgery are still susceptible to failing.
Part of a process
Dineros explains that weight loss surgery is just one part of the whole process since understanding the root causes of obesity are extremely important if one is considering such procedure as a way to get back to a healthy weight. This is why, he says, a dietician and other specialists along with the doctor should form a team and instill to the patient why compliance to eat in moderation as well as choosing the right food to eat is crucial after a procedure,” he says.
“Weight loss surgery is not a magic bullet. However, it is an option when dieting and exercising have failed and your obesity and its accompanying complications are already affecting your health and quality of life,” says Dineros, who performs the United States FDA-approved LAP Band Adjustable Gastric Banding System (Allergan) at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center (Wilson Street, San Juan) as well as in the two St. Luke’s Medical Centers (Quezon City and Global City, Taguig).
A LAP-Band is a silicone belt or collar that goes around the upper part of the stomach. This restrictive, reversible surgery decreases the functioning part of the patient’s stomach to about 5 percent or less—roughly the size of a golf ball. This size enables the stomach to just hold an ounce of food.
“As a result, the person’s appetite will decrease, and will eat less as a result, feel full sooner and gradually lose weight (around a pound a week or a loss of about 40 percent of excess weight in the first year and 55 percent of excess weight in the second year),” he says.
Dineros reminds his patients that healthy weight loss doesn’t happen overnight. “You should lose weight at a steady, but gradual, pace of one or two pounds a week. Once you’ve achieved a healthy weight, you can rely on your new, healthy eating habits (which a nutritionist will suggest) and 30 minutes to an hour of moderate physical activity three to five days a week,” says Dineros, who also has a health-oriented program at dzIQ Radyo Inquirer.
He explains that even a modest weight loss of 5 to 10 percent of an obese’s total body weight can result in enormous health benefits including improvement in blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, staving off type-2 diabetes by reducing blood sugar levels and promoting insulin sensitivity as well as preventing deadly diseases such as breast cancer.
The country, Dineros explains, should not wait for obesity to reach epidemic levels like what has happened in most of the industrialized world.
He suggests: “Just like our patients who just undergone the LAP Band Adjustable Gastric Banding System, we also advises them to plan their meals ahead of time so they’ll know what you will be eating, be careful that the food portion sizes are not too big, avoid second helpings when already full, switch unhealthy snacks and desserts to healthy ones, eat slowly and by not skipping meals.”
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