Decision Assist

Obesity specialist


The purpose of this tool is to help you decide whether or not to see an obesity specialist. When making a decision like this, you must balance:

This tool is not a substitute for professional medical care and advice. Work with your doctor to help you make this decision. A second opinion from another doctor or specialist may be valuable. There is usually no exact “right” or “wrong” answer.

Your physician may make certain recommendations to you. However, the final decision about whether to see a specialist rests with you.

What does this specialist do?

More than half of the U.S. population is overweight. But being obese is different from being overweight. An adult male is considered obese when his weight is 20% or more over the maximum desirable for their height, according to his body mass index. A woman is considered obese at 25% or more than this maximum weight. Anyone more than 100 pounds overweight is considered very obese.

Obesity and health

You may want to contact an obesity specialist if you are unable to lose weight on your own. The doctor will obtain a medical history and perform a physical examination. You will likely undergo skin fold measurements to assess body composition. You may also need blood studies to test for diabetes and high cholesterol.

You and the specialist can work together to create an appropriate treatment plan. Medications are usually not recommended to aid intentional weight loss. They often cause harmful side effects or adverse reactions. At best, the drugs control appetite only for short time periods and don't help change eating habits.

Gastric bypass surgery may be an option for the very obese.

Roux-en-Y stomach surgery for weight loss
Click the icon to see an illustration detailing gastric bypass surgery.

Key points

How much time this decision tool will take

What this tool will provide

Review Date: 9/12/2010
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

  • Leslie D. Bariatric surgery primer for the internist: keys to the surgical consultation. Med Clin North Am. 2007; 91(3):353-381, x.
  • Svetke, LP, Stevens VJ, Brantley PJ, et al. Comparison of strategies for sustaining weight loss: the weight loss maintenance randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2008;299(10):1139-48.
  • Thompson WG, Cook DA, Clark MM, et al. Treatment of obesity. Mayo Clin Proc. 2007;82(1):93-101.
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