Obesity Treatment Support Groups

Obesity support groups can be part of successful weight loss programs. Many hospitals offer support for obesity, while other obesity support services are strictly for-profit organizations. Obesity help varies widely from organization to organization, as do success rates.

Taking part in obesity support groups can provide a sense of community and support. Obesity support groups allow people to share experiences about losing weight. Some groups focus on obesity surgery support, while others focus on changing behavior to lose weight.

Obesity Support Groups to Avoid

Some obesity support groups do more harm than good. If the support group favors weight loss at any cost, including the use of fad diets and heavily restrictive diets, take heed. Obesity solutions should include behavior changes and a balanced diet if they are going to be effective over the long term.

Clinical Obesity Support Services

Clinical obesity support services are sometimes available through hospitals, and are run by qualified health care professionals. Clinical obesity help provides access to doctors, dietitians and other health care professionals. Behavior modification may be available to help maintain weight loss, although some people fall back on old habits when they leave the program. Obesity surgery support groups are highly recommended for people who are considering or recovering from bariatric surgery.

Non-Clinical Obesity Support Groups

Non-clinical support for obesity is less likely to be led by health care professionals; the group leader may have no health care experience at all. Many non-clinical companies require participants to use their pre-prepared foods and dietary supplements. Much of the individual effort is taken out of food preparation. Such services are often expensive, and may only work as long as people stay in the program.

Online Obesity Help

Online support is fairly new, and the effectiveness of this approach has yet to be determined. Some online support groups are simply chat lines, while others charge a fee and offer dietary advice, menu planning and access to online health care professionals. The advantages of such programs include the availability of 24-hour crisis help, a variety of menus and food suggestions, chat rooms made up of kindred spirits and access to charts showing your progress. The disadvantage is the relative anonymity — it can keep people isolated when they need to go out and face the world.

Questions to Ask about the Weight Loss Program

When considering any obesity support service, ask the following questions:

  • Are any foods restricted? (Severe dietary restrictions are a warning sign.)
  • Are long-term weight maintenance and lifestyle changes part of the program?
  • Does the group favor a slow, steady weight loss over a rapid one? (Rapid weight loss often leads to yo-yo dieting.)
  • Does the program have qualified medical professionals on staff? And if so, will you have access to them?
  • How much weight does the average participant lose?
  • If the group offers a dietary plan, does it include all the required nutrients, fiber, vitamins and other essentials the body needs daily?
  • What are the fees? Are any hidden costs involved?
  • What’s the program’s success rate?

Resources

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. (n.d.). Selecting a weight loss program. Retrieved April 26, 2010, from http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/wtl_prog.htm.

Wing, R. and Tate, D. (2002). Behavior modification for obesity. Retrieved April 26, 2010, from http://www.endotext.org/obesity/obesity17/obesity17.htm.