Choosing a Weight Loss Plan

I overheard a revealing father to son comment while eating out recently. The family of 3 was seated at the table right next to me. Sadly, both parents were overweight by 40+ pounds, as was the 20 year old son. The father, speaking wisdom, commented, “Son, be very careful to protect your health, or you will end up with problems. Look at me…”

“I’ve just got to lose 40 pounds!”


Their family weight problem was apparent, as was the complete absence of an effective plan.

Everyone knows that losing weight and keeping it off long term can be difficult. But gaining weight is easy! Consider these 3 weight gain facts in America:

Fact #1) No one wants to be overweight, yet it is epidemic. 
That’s right. There are 226,000,000 adults in America who do not want to be overweight, and yet it is their reality! Why so? Aren’t Americans among the most clever and knowledgeable people who have ever lived on planet Earth? Yes, weight gain is common, the “norm” and easy!

Fact #2) “Self-dieters” find little success. Chronic overweight affects 2 out of 3 adults in America. Millions are trying to lose weight at any given time. However, few are successful. The International Journal of Obesity (Sept, 2000) reported that after 1 year of self-dieting, those trying to lose weight actually gained 1-½ lbs! The researchers concluded the following… “dieting to lose weight predicts weight GAIN, not weight loss…!”

Fact #3) More evidence Americans are gaining weight against their wishes! Excess weight is uncomfortable and unwanted. Yet average weight in America is increasing from 157 lbs at age 25 to 177 lbs by age 35 (CARDIA study). We are adding 20 lbs of unwanted weight during what should be our “healthiest” and most active 10 years of adulthood!

So, if weight loss is so hard, and weight gain is the “norm” what should I do? Especially, if like the father above…

“I’ve just got to lose 40 pounds!”

Here is my advice:

1. Don’t delay success by pursuing strategies that are not “40 pound strategies”:

  • Example #1: Self-diets (trying to eat less and exercise more), on average, result in 1-½ lbs of weight gain after 1 year. Eating less and exercising more are admirable goals, but not typically effective for losing 40 lbs.
  • Example #2: Franchise diet chains. The journal JAMA (Jan 2005), reported a Tufts University study indicating that average weight loss at Weight Watchers in 1 year was 6.6 lbs (again, not 40 lbs, since participants started around 220 lbs and lost to around 213.4 lbs on average after one year). Note: Most diet franchises refuse to reveal any weight loss averages, for obvious reasons!
  • Example #3: Fad diet books. Whether Atkins (4.6 lbs), Zone Diet (7.0 lbs), or Ornish Diet (7.3 lbs), average weight loss after 1 year was closer to 4 lbs than 40 lbs, even though starting weight was around 220 lbs (JAMA, 2005).
(Note: More structure and more accountability clearly give benefit compared to self-dieting! So more of any approach is better than doing nothing! But if you HAVE to lose 40 lbs, choose your approach thoughtfully! Read on…)

2. If you really “need to lose 40 lbs”, consider medical weight loss with a physician and professional team. Here’s why:

  • Medical causes of weight gain can be determined. Each week I have new patients enter my office on medications that cause weight gain! Thyroid disorders, nutrient deficiencies, stress and mood disorders, sleep impairment, hormone imbalances, and self-esteem issues can also be driving forces for weight gain. If weight gain causes are not successfully managed, weight loss is impossible to maintain long term. A thorough medical evaluation, including proper lab tests and body composition studies, PRIOR to beginning weight loss assures that unnecessary causes of weight gain have been revealed and addressed.
  • A personal weight management plan can be developed. Without insights into your appetite tendencies, metabolism issues, and body composition, it is impossible to know your nutritional and treatment needs. Someone needs to assess your medical history and your current status before appropriate personal goals can be developed. And without clear goals and individualized, powerful strategies, a weight loss attempt will never deliver a “40 lb” success.
  • A weight maintenance plan must be managed over time. After significant weight loss, weight maintenance requires excellent nutrition, as well as control of cravings, hunger, and a sluggish metabolism. The plan must be modified as things like stress level, health status, age and life circumstances change. A knowledgeable physician, as part of a professional team, is best suited to manage these future challenges.
  • A team of professionals provides multiple sources of support and wisdom. Having dietitians, nutritionists, fitness counselors, supportive “coaches”, as well as physicians, nurses, and nurse practitioners, allows for ongoing problem solvers who can address challenges from a variety of perspectives. Weight loss is difficult. Excellence from your support team is mandatory!
  • Unlike in years past, insurance and health savings accounts are now covering or reimbursing many patients for medical weight loss treatment. The Affordable Care Act, medical savings accounts, and other insurance trends make medical weight loss more affordable and accessible than ever! Now that “obesity” has been declared a true disease by those in power, people affected by this chronic, progressive condition can finally receive the medical care and support they need! (See blog Obesity is a DiseaseCall or come in to our office for more information.)

Significant weight loss is VERY achievable. Consider our Center for Nutrition “Topeka Study” of 20 consecutive men and women coming to us for weight loss compared to the typical diet studies mentioned above, all with losses less than 7-1/2 lbs in one full year of weight loss. Our study resulted in the following among these obese dieters following their recommended personal, individualized treatment plans:

CFN Topeka Study: Average weight loss of 41 lbs in 12 weeks!

Indeed, medical weight loss, when individualized, can be highly successful. Obviously, these individuals were motivated to lose weight and were on a mission! They were also thoughtfully evaluated and treated.Like losing weight, maintaining weight loss requires the same “on a mission” mentality, or weight can always return. A long-term approach is the only strategy I recommend.

As you pursue Optimum Health, remember that successful weight control and excellent nutrition are key factors. The unwanted weight gain trends in America are clear and alarming. Unwanted weight gain is literally destroying the health of America! Let’s choose not to participate in these common trends. Instead, let’s:

  1. Identify our weight and “Optimum Health” goals.
  2. Identify successful strategies to achieve those goals.
  3. Embrace those strategies diligently, daily, and long term!

If you are struggling with unwanted weight gain, whether it is 20, 40, 60, or 100+ pounds, take charge now! Get the medical professional support you need for weight control! Time is ticking! Let this be your year for success!

For Optimum Health,

Rick R. Tague, M.D., M.P.H. & T.M.

P.S. If you need a personal treatment plan for chronic overweight, learn more at taguenutrition.com.

Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H. & T.M. is a nutrition & weight loss specialist and the Founder & Medical Director of the Center for Nutrition and Preventive Medicine, P.A.

Dr. Tague is an Alpha Omega Alpha honors graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. He also holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Tulane. Dr. Tague is board certified by the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Family Medicine. His medical practice has focused on optimum health, nutrition, and weight loss since 1996.