May 10, 2011
Today I'm addressing goal weight as it relates to our experience with weight loss surgery. Prior to surgery patients are in cahoots with their surgeons as they plan for bariatric surgery, set the course and denote the finish line which will be crossed when goal weight is achieved. I don't particularly like to hear what I'm about to say and I know it is a tough thing for my WLS Neighbors to hear, but I'm putting it out there bluntly so we can face it and take action:
Few patients will ever reach goal weight.
There you have it. Numerous studies suggest that fewer than 20% of patients achieve goal weight. My work with patients of all gastric surgeries for weight management suggests the same thing. In fact, it is fairly common for me to meet someone who introduces themselves saying, "I'm one of those people who never made it to goal weight." Here is what you need to know about goal weight so it will cease to be a barrier to your pursuit of overall health.
Know This Truth:
It is the random method of determining goal weight that is flawed; it is not the patient who is flawed.
Goal weight is a random data point set arbitrarily with reference to standardized tables that are irrelevant to an individual's health history, age, co-morbidities and genetic profile. In most cases the goal weight creates unrealistic expectations for the patient. When patients do not achieve this random point of measure called goal weight they consider themselves a failure and "one of those people." Patients become hopeless and frustrated. These feelings almost always lead to rebound weight gain.
Why do we use weight as a measure of health?
From the time of our birth when proud parents happily announce our weight and height and throughout our life these two data points (weight and height) are used to assess our health. The reason? Cost and convenience. Collecting these two measurements is easy and cheap. Most medical professionals agree that the current standards for body weight measured by weight in relation to height (called BMI-Body Mass Index) does little to reflect disease risk, identify body fat, and in general presents a misleading argument for overall health. In reality, the most these data points reveal is change without indicating a decline or improvement in health. Yet we are encouraged with weight loss surgery, and by conventional diet programs as well, to focus on a goal weight that may have very little to do with the health of our body.
Today we go beyond goal weight to help you achieve better results that are health focused.
Please join me with an open mind as we look at goal weight as it is used by weight loss surgery patients. Bear in mind that I'm not anti-goal weight. I am simply sharing the knowledge I have collected in building my understanding of how such a tight focus on goal weight results in difficulty and disappointment for many patients. As you read with an open mind add this knowledge to your personal experience and understanding. You are a powerful person. Harness your strength and intelligence as you engage in the pursuit of better health and better living with weight loss surgery.
This is a longer newsletter than our normal weekly digest. I know we are all limited on time and asking you to read this may be a burden. But the content here is very important to your life-long healthy weight management. I hope you find it worth your while.