Working with an Obesity Specialist (Bariatric Healthcare Provider)
Obesity is a complex problem. A general healthcare provider can offer some help with
weight loss. A bariatric healthcare provider has special training in how to treat
obesity and related health issues. This type of provider is also called a bariatrician.
Many of them have also had training to do surgery that aids in weight loss. This type
of provider is called a bariatric surgeon.
What is obesity?
Obesity is when body fat is above a certain level. Body mass index (BMI) is a way
to measure obesity. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. A BMI
of 25 to 30 is overweight. A BMI over 30 is obese. Your healthcare provider can calculate
your BMI for you. You can also use a BMI calculator online to find out your BMI.
Why see a bariatric healthcare provider?
If you are obese, it’s important that you get the right treatment. Obesity can lead
to serious health problems, such as:
You may begin your treatment with your primary healthcare provider. If you need more
help, you may want to see a bariatric healthcare provider. They may have new ideas
or methods for weight loss that can help you.
What to expect at your first visit
At your first visit, your bariatric healthcare provider may:
Ask about your health history. This includes your history of eating habits, exercise, and weight loss.
Give you a physical exam. This includes BMI, waist circumference, and blood pressure.
Your provider will order certain tests to check health factors related to obesity.
They also look for health problems that can cause weight gain. You may have tests
Blood sugar levels, to check for diabetes
Lipid and cholesterol levels
Thyroid-stimulating hormone levels
Liver blood tests
Kidney function blood tests
Vitamin D levels
Electrocardiogram, to look at your heart rhythm
Exercise testing, to see how well your heart works during exercise
Resting metabolic rate, to look at how many calories you burn at rest
Creating a treatment plan
Your healthcare provider will create a treatment plan for you. The plan is based on
your medical needs and preferences. They will:
Find out how ready you are to begin an exercise program
Help you make realistic weight loss goals
Give you a nutrition plan
Tell you to keep a food diary
Talk with you about a weight-loss medicine, if needed
They will give you information about:
Healthy eating habits
Healthy exercise habits
How to change health behaviors
How mental health affects obesity
The complications of obesity
The benefits and risks of medicines
At each follow-up visit, your healthcare provider will check your progress. They will
make changes to your plan as needed. As you lose weight and your health improves,
your provider might change some of your medicines. If your weight loss stops or you
regain weight, they may talk with you about weight loss surgery.
Finding a bariatric healthcare provider
Talk first with your primary healthcare provider. They may be able to refer you to
a bariatric healthcare provider. You can also go to the Obesity Medicine Association website. They have an online listing of bariatric providers.