What is Medical Weight Loss?

What is Medical Weight Loss?


Obesity is now the second leading cause of preventable deaths in America. Although many factors can contribute to becoming overweight—i.e., genetics, hormones, nutritional factors, activity level, environment, there is just one generally accepted, effective approach to weight control. Bariatric physicians understand that overweight conditions are medical problems and should be treated with methods of weight control that are both practical and effective.

Our office staff includes nutritionists, exercise physiologists, and behaviorists who teach groups and work with patients individually. Dr Scinta believes that each element in her four-pronged, multidisciplinary approach (behavioral modification, nutritional counseling, medicine, and exercise) is necessary for successful weight loss and weight loss maintenance.

Treating Behavior

Treating the behavioral element that compels the eating is critical. Research indicates that past childhood events often form the psychological foundation that drives an individual’s present eating patterns. Many obese and overweight individuals have a history of sexual or physical abuse, which leads to unhealthy coping methods through food. Some are binge eaters or night eaters. Some purge. Many are depressed.

As Dr. Scinta explains, these issues must be handled delicately and on an individual basis. “We provide each patient with the emotional respect and support they deserve. I can treat their depression with medications that are not conducive to weight gain, for example. My staff can then work with them to develop strategies to modify their bad habits.”

Finding Medical Causes

More than half of Dr Scinta’s patients have medical causes behind their obesity or overweight condition. Polycystic ovary disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and occasionally hypothyroidism are just a few of the diseases she sees in her office that frequently go undiagnosed and often contribute to weight gain.

Sometimes, weight gain is related to medications. “It is unfortunate that many medications used to treat depression, hypertension, diabetes and menstrual irregularities (all caused by obesity) cause weight gain. Instead of treating the problem, we are compounding it,” she commented. “There are, however, safe and effective alternatives that should be considered.”

On your first visit, in addition to a comprehensive medical exam and thorough behavioral assessment, Dr. Scinta will perform an EKG, metabolic profile, and resting calorimetry to determine how much weight you should lose and how quickly you should lose it, based on a specific, calorically controlled diet. She then discusses a plan that includes a food-based diet, partial meal replacements using the product Optifast, or full meal replacements. As a last step, you will see a nutritionist and formulate the final plan.