A healthy approach to weight loss

WORDS: Donna Tanchev, Her Medical principal doctor PHOTOGRAPHY Brian Usher -

You do not need to manage your weight alone.

OBESITY is a treatable disease that is a worldwide health concern associated with having an excess amount of body fat.

It’s a risk factor for leading causes of death including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers. It is one of the leading risk factors for death globally.

In Australia, two in three adults and one in four children are obese or overweight. Experts predict that by 2025, more than 75 percent of Australian adults will be either obese or overweight.

Waist circumference is an important measure. Obesity-related health problems such as type-2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers are more likely if you have a waist circumference of 94cm (for men) or 80cm (for women).

Most people become obese or overweight because they take in more energy from food and drink than they use with physical activity. The average adult needs 8700kJ each day. The rest is stored as body fat, so over time, over-consuming food and drink without also increasing activity leads to weight gain.

Weight is influenced by a range of factors including your family history, genetics, your surroundings, metabolism, certain medical conditions and medications.

In most cases, a kilojoule-controlled diet with regular exercise will help you lose weight. Swapping high-energy food choices and a tailored food program can help people achieve weight loss goals. It is also important to prevent dangerous dieting behaviours or restricting certain foods entirely.

Combining dietary changes with moderate-intensity physical activity each day is the tried and true combination for weight loss. Research shows that doing any physical activity is better than doing none and incorporating daily physical activity is more effective than only once or twice a week. Also, strength training is particularly beneficial for bone density and metabolism.

Often it may be helpful to see a counsellor or psychologist who can help you with long-term changes. Techniques such as cognitive-behavioural therapy can promote weight loss by teaching you to recognise when and why you eat and helping to change unhelpful thoughts or thinking patterns.

Prescription medications are also available for weight loss in Australia. Some work by reducing your appetite and speeding up the metabolism while others make you feel less hungry. As with any medication, they may have side effects and it is important to talk with your doctor about the right choice for you.

Bariatric surgery is also an effective treatment to help people lose weight by changing the way the body digests and absorbs food. There are certain guidelines and parameters for weight loss surgery eligibility and your GP is well-positioned to navigate these with you and refer you to weight loss surgeons for further discussion and exploration of the surgical options

You do not need to manage your weight alone. Obesity is multifactorial and as such a multidisciplinary approach, with various healthcare providers who can each provide you with their own unique support, resources and tools, will help you to achieve healthy and sustainable weight loss goals.

Weight-loss as little as 5-10 percent can improve your overall health, so when you are trying to lose weight; surround yourself with the right team of health professionals, make it simple, make it realistic and make it fun.

Visit or call 07 5616 8070 to book an appointment with Dr Elizabeth Colebourne to discuss weight loss.