HMC: Lifestyle Modification Is Key to Fighting Obesity
Dr. Marwa Gomaa Hussein Mokhtar, a Consultant at the Qatar Metabolic Institute, says most patients seeking non-surgical weight loss solutions at the National Obesity Treatment Center can achieve a healthy body weight within six to twelve months of entering a weight loss program.
Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) National Obesity Treatment Center, which sits under the Qatar Metabolic Institute (QMI) and was officially inaugurated late last year, delivers holistic, multidisciplinary care for patients seeing medical and surgical management of obesity and the prevention of weight-related diseases. Since opening, over 4,700 patients have benefited from the Center’s services.
Located in Hamad Bin Khalifa Medical City, patients are normally referred to the National Obesity Treatment Center from other HMC outpatient clinics, including the National Diabetes Centers and obstetrics and gynecology departments, as well as from primary healthcare centers. Staffed by a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, dietitians, educators, and physiotherapists, all patients referred to the Center undergo a comprehensive clinical evaluation in advance of a personalized weight loss treatment plan being developed.
According to Dr. Mokhtar, not all patients are candidates for surgical weight loss procedures and some patients who do meet the clinical standards that qualify them for surgical weight loss choose a non-surgical solution. She says that while all weight loss programs offered at the National Obesity Treatment Center emphasize lifestyle modifications, highlighting adjustments to the types and quantities of foods consumed and the incorporation of physical activity goals, patients who seek non-surgical solutions tend to need extra support with setting realistic goals.
Dr. Mokhtar, who is an endocrinology and diabetes consultant, says the causes of obesity are complex, noting there may be many interrelated factors, such as genetics, lifestyle, diet, underlying health conditions, and how an individual’s body uses energy. She said staff at the National Obesity Treatment Center work with patients to help them set and reach their weight loss goals, taking time to ensure direction is given in a respectful and nonjudgmental way.
“For some individuals, weight loss is essential to avoid or manage chronic diseases and conditions associated with obesity, such as diabetes, pre-diabetes, and high blood pressure. The longer a person is obese, the more significant obesity-related risk factors become. Having a BMI equal to or greater than 30 is a major risk factor for a number of chronic diseases,” says Dr. Mokhtar.
Body Mass Index, or BMI, is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify underweight, overweight, and obesity in adults. It is defined as one’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of one’s height in meters (kg/m2). Individuals with a BMI greater than 30, which approximates to 30 pounds of excess weight, are at risk of developing serious health problems. Generally, a healthy weight among individuals aged 20 or over is defined as a BMI equal to or greater than 19 and less than 25, and a BMI of 40 or more is used to identify people who are extremely obese and most at risk for the health complications of obesity.
Each patient seeking treatment at the National Obesity Treatment Center undergoes a comprehensive medical assessment that covers their complete health history, ranging from sleep patterns to hormone health. Dr. Mokhtar says considerable time is spent counseling patients about both the importance of reaching and maintaining a healthy weight and the underlying causes of weight gain and obesity.
“Extra weight may put an individual at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and certain cancers, so it is important patients understand the necessity of reaching and maintaining a healthy weight,” said Dr. Mokhtar.
She adds that successful non-surgical weight loss programs are based on a combination of diet, behavior modification, and regular exercise, adding that prescription medications may also be part of the treatment plan.
“Prescription medications may be a useful part of the weight loss solution for some patients. Some medications may help patients feel less hungry or feel full sooner. Other medications may make it harder for their body to absorb fat from the foods eaten. Behavioral modifications are also an important part of the puzzle. We encourage patients to focus on what they are eating during mealtimes and to avoid distractions like watching television,” says Dr. Mokhtar.
Dr. Mokhtar adds that establishing an action plan to modify unhealthy behaviors is an essential component of setting realistic weight loss targets. She says staff at the National Obesity Treatment Center work with patients to help them make simple changes that can have a big impact, like substituting foods high in sugar and fat with healthier alternatives, incorporating more exercise into their day, taking weight-loss medications, when appropriate, and being more mindful of the foods they are consuming by keeping a food diary. She adds that the mission of the National Obesity Treatment Center is to identify individuals who fall into the obese category and motivate them to lose weight to prevent weight-related diseases.
Hamad Medical Corporation
Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is the premier non-profit health care provider in Doha, Qatar. It was established by Emiri decree in 1979 and manages five highly specialized hospitals, namely, Hamad General Hospital, Rumailah Hospital, Women's Hospital, Al Amal Hospital and Al Khor Hospital. Since its establishment, HMC has rapidly developed medical facilities capable of providing state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment of diseases that previously could only be managed in overseas medical centers.
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