Bariatricians: The Real Weight Loss Experts

male doctor talking and smiling with female patient

These days, it seems like everyone from celebrities to fitness gurus proclaim to be weight loss experts. The truth is, real medical weight loss programs are backed by years of training—not fads or mystery diets. Using proven techniques and sound medical research, weight loss physicians help obese children and adults lose weight and develop healthier lifestyles.

What is a bariatric physician?

A bariatrician is a medical weight loss doctor who specializes in the treatment of obesity and its associated conditions. Bariatricians can help prevent, and more importantly, reverse obesity related diseases. This can be done by reducing body fat responsible for the disease processes while maintaining muscle mass.

How are board certified bariatricians trained?

All bariatricians are board certified in at least one field in addition to weight loss. For example, a doctor who provides childhood obesity help may be board-certified in family medicine in addition to bariatric medicine. Bariatricians are trained by the American Society of Bariatric Physicians.
 
Training includes:
  • Undergoing several hundred credit hours of training in obesity and metabolism
  • Sitting for an oral and written exam
  • Passing a site visit where the physician’s weight loss practice is carefully scrutinized by a national member of the American Board of Bariatric Medicine
  • Demonstrating the ability to provide significant weight loss in at least 50 patients sustained through a clinic maintenance program
While some weight management doctors may refer to themselves as weight loss experts, only board-certified bariatricians have had the rigorous training mentioned above.
 
Bariatricians also have training in nutrition, exercise physiology, and fat metabolism. These areas of expertise are not traditionally addressed during a medical school education. This additional training helps bariatric physicians approach weight loss proactively.

What does a weight loss doctor do?

Bariatric physicians are more than just diet doctors. As medical weight loss doctors, bariatricians focus on reversal of disease processes. By treating obesity, a bariatrician helps to resolve the risks associated with being overweight. For example, instead of writing prescriptions for high blood pressure and high cholesterol medications, a bariatrican may help a patient lose enough weight to resolve those complications.
Bariatricians guide patients through a variety of medically-supervised weight loss techniques. This includes nutritional changes, behavioral modification, exercise, and medical management. Weight loss promotes disease reversal and encourages ongoing maintenance of wellness.

How is a bariatrician different from a bariatric surgeon?

People often get bariatricians confused with bariatric surgeons. A licensed bariatric surgeon manipulates the body surgically for weight loss. The most common bariatric surgery procedures performed are gastric bypass surgery and gastric banding.
 
A bariatrician is trained to non-surgically address obesity and obesity related health issues. This is accomplished through a combination of medical management, nutritional manipulation, exercise, and behavioral modification.
 
Bariatricians can support bariatric surgery procedures to address weight loss before and after surgery. They can also work with patients who have undergone bariatric surgery may have regained weight.
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