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 Types of Weight-Loss Programs

To lose weight and keep it off, you should be aware of the different types of programs available and the important parts of a good program. Knowing this information should help you select or design a weight-loss program that will work for you. The three types of weight-loss programs include: do-it-yourself programs, non-clinical programs, and clinical programs.

Types of Weight-Loss Programs

Weight Loss Programs - Do-It-Yourself

Any effort to lose weight by yourself or with a group of like-minded others through support groups, worksite or community-based programs fits in the "do-it-yourself" category. Individuals using a do-it-yourself program rely on their own judgment, group support, and products such as diet books for advice (Note: Not all diet books are reliable sources of weight-loss information). Useful weight loss support and self-help programs include, Overeaters Anonymous (OA), TOPS Club, Inc (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly). No weight loss diet plans or structured programs are offered.

Weight Loss Programs - Non-Clinical

These programs may or may not be commercially operated, such as through a privately-owned, weight-loss chain. They often use books and pamphlets that are prepared by health-care providers. These programs use counselors (who usually are not health-care providers and may or may not have training) to provide services to you. Some programs require participants to use the program's food. Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers are examples of this type of geographically-based weight loss program, although they also have online weight plans.

Weight Loss Programs - Non-Clinical - Weight Loss Supplements

Some weight loss programs require dieters to purchase higher-priced weight loss 'extras' like bars, shakes and so on. These weight loss supplement products are not necessary for healthy weight loss and may add considerably to the cost of the program.

Weight Loss Programs - Online

There are a growing number of online weight loss programs, offering a variety of diet foods and online menus. See also: Weight Loss Diet

Weight Loss Programs - Clinical

This type of program may or may not be commercially owned. Services are provided in a health-care setting, such as a hospital, by licensed health professionals, such as physicians, nurses, dietitians, and/or psychologists. In some clinical programs, a health professional works alone; in others, a group of health professionals works together to provide services to patients. Clinical programs may offer you services such as nutrition education, medical care, behavior change therapy, and physical activity.

Clinical weight loss programs may also use other weight-loss methods, such as very low-calorie diets, prescription weight-loss drugs, and surgery, to treat severely overweight patients. These treatments are described below:

Weight Loss Programs - Clinical - Obesity Treatment

Very low-calorie diets (VLCDs) are commercially prepared formulas that provide no more than 800 calories per day and replace all usual food intake. VLCDs help individuals lose weight more quickly than is usually possible with low-calorie diets. Because VLCDs can cause side effects, obesity experts recommend that only people who are obese (see Body Mass Index and Weight Chart) use these weight loss diet programs, and only with proper medical supervision.

Prescription Weight Loss Drugs should be used only if you are likely to have health problems caused by your weight. You should not use drugs to improve your appearance. Prescribed weight-loss drugs, when combined with healthy weight loss diet programs which include regular physical activity, may help some obese adults lose weight.

You may consider gastric surgery to promote weight loss if you are more than 80 pounds overweight. However, weight loss surgery patients are always encouraged to follow specific post-operative weight loss programs which typically include specific eating plans and exercise routines.

If you have medical problems, or if are severely overweight, weight loss programs run by trained health professionals may be best for you. These professionals are more likely to monitor you for possible side effects of weight loss.

Whether you decide to use do-it-yourself, non-clinical, or clinical weight loss programs, your chosen weight reduction plan should help you lose weight and keep it off by teaching you healthy eating and physical activity habits that you will be able to follow for the rest of your life.


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