I remember even five years ago that weight loss wasn’t a major concern for a lot of health professionals within their practices. I had created a weight loss system that was easily integrated within a chiropractic office. There was a real need to begin providing this service within a practice. The program consisted of exercise, behaviour modification and healthy eating. This blog will discuss the research behind behaviour modification and why it’s a necessary component of any weight loss program. Most of all, it’s quite easy and inexpensive to integrate.
Once obesity became labelled as an illness by Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, health professionals began to understand that it is something that can affect their treatment outcomes.
Weight loss is gradually being taken more seriously due to the obesity epidemic that is not only hitting the US, but also the world. With obesity comes a wide array of medically associated conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and most importantly, joint and back pain. More and more of these people are seeking chiropractic care and are posing a real challenge to the clinician, making us address the whole person rather than the specific condition they present. If you are looking at integrating weight loss into your practice, research has shown several strategies that work. One of the most effective components to any weight loss program is behaviour modification strategies. These can easily be implemented through the practice and can take as little as 10 minutes. The following is a list of research findings that suggest weight loss is not about a magic pill, but about providing as many effective tools as possible to ensure success.
· Physicians’ weight loss counseling had a significant effect on patients’ understanding of and motivation to lose weight. However, physicians provided insufficient guidance on weight management strategies, possibly because of inadequate counseling skills and confidence:
Most of the research does show that a health professional has significant influence over a patient’s weight loss success. As chiropractors, we are in a prime position to be the main influence for these patients considering we have always been rated high on ability to communicate with patients effectively.
Behavior modification strategies:
· Daily record of food intake, which can be accomplished through a simple Food and Activity Journal, allowed individuals to lose 64% more weight compared to those who did not record food intake.
· The more contact people have with members of their treatment team, the longer they maintain their weight losses.
· When motivational strategies are utilized in a weight loss program, a person has better attendance, self – monitoring, and exercise compliance skills.
· Participants who were recruited with friends had increased weight losses over a 10 month period over those who were recruited alone.
· A person’s weight loss expectation over a six month period can be as much as 28%, while the average weight loss over that same period is approximately 15%. This reinforces the need to provide realistic expectations and goals.
· Overweight people underestimate their caloric intake by as much as 30 to 40%. Some underestimations can be as much as 1200 calories per day.
As you can see from the findings, there are many issues involved in the weight loss process rather than providing the simple ‘eat less and exercise more’. One of the biggest frustrations is providing a realistic expectation to a person’s weight loss strategy. As you can see, many people have higher expectations of weight loss than what is achievable through an effective program that doesn’t involve surgery! In this study, people wanted 28% of their body weight lost, although reasonably they could only expect up to 15%. Do you realize that even though these people were told they would only lose up to 15% of their body weight every month for 6 months, they were still dissatisfied with those results? Achieving 28% of body weight is achievable primarily through surgery. Unrealistic expectations are a huge factor in any success you want to achieve with your patients. Reinforcing realistic expectations from the outset and getting a commitment is essential for success.
One other important finding is the fact that most underestimate how much they eat by 30 to 40%. This isn’t the fault of the patient, but is an inherent misjudgment that is made. That’s why prepared meals or meal replacements are so popular. If you are going to establish a weight loss program, always take into consideration that unless you are very good at educating on portion control, prepackaged meals or meal replacements may be the more effective and efficient option for some of your patients.
As you can see, behavior modification is a critical component of your weight loss program. There are a lot of factors at play other than eating less. There is more at play here than just recommending a magic pill! Most of the behavior modification strategies are things that chiropractors should be comfortable with. We have always been known to provide effective communication and education for our patients. Transferring the same skills to a weight loss program should be easy. As more and more patients are showing up at our offices obese, it should be our prime responsibility to address this alongside their medical conditions.