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Bariatric Doctor

A bariatric doctor is a licensed physician who specializes in the treatment of obesity and other related medical disorders.

A bariatric doctor confers with a patient. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
A bariatric doctor confers with a patient.

Bariatric Doctor

A bariatric doctor is a licensed physician who specializes in the treatment of obesity and other related medical disorders. Bariatric doctors are trained to treat obese and overweight patients with comprehensive diet, nutrition, exercise and behavioral therapy programs designed to help them lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. Bariatric doctors may also prescribe appetite suppressants and other medications to help patients reach their weight loss and weight management goals.

What to Expect From Bariatric Doctors

According to the Cleveland Clinic, weight management is a major concern in the United States. More than 50 percent of Americans are classified as overweight and approximately 12 million are considered obese (which is defined as 100 pounds or more overweight). Bariatric doctors perform initial assessments to determine the patients needs based on medical history, physical abilities and laboratory test results. Bariatric doctors record information about the patients age, waist circumference, height and weight. They also may examine the head, neck, lungs, heart and abdomen. Laboratory tests typically include thyroid function, ECG and other body composition assessments. Bariatric doctors provide patients with consultation and follow-up visits to help patients eat healthy, engage in physical activity and incorporate other effective weight loss methods into their daily routine. When patients reach a healthy weight, bariatric doctors provide advice on weight management.

What to Expect From Bariatric Surgeons

Similar to bariatric doctors, bariatric surgeons are also trained in the art and science of medical weight management. However, bariatric surgeons focus their practice on performing weight loss surgeries. According to the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery, bariatric surgery is the most successful and long-lasting method of treating extreme obesity and other related health problems. Procedures that bariatric surgeons perform include gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, adjustable gastric band and biliopancreatic bypass with duodenal switch. According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the most popular bariatric surgeries in the United States is gastric bypass, which is a procedure that changes the size of the digestive system to limit the amount of food an individual can eat before becoming full.

When to Consult a Bariatric Doctor

Individuals who are obese or overweight may benefit from consulting with a bariatric doctor. The body mass index (BMI) is commonly calculated to determine if an individual is at a healthy weight, overweight or obese. BMI measures the degree of obesity and does not actually measure body fat. The Department of Health and Human Services defines the following BMI categories:

  • Less than 18.5 is considered underweight
  • 18.5 to 24.9 is considered a normal weight
  • 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight
  • 30 to 39.9 is considered obese
  • Over 40 is considered extremely obese

According to the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, other measurements used to determine an individuals degree of obesity include the waist-to-hip ratio. The measurement is taken by dividing the circumference of an individuals waist by the hips. A healthy waist-to-hip ratio for women is less than 0.8, while a healthy ratio for men is less than 0.95. While BMI and the waist-to-hip ratio are good indicators of obesity, a comprehensive assessment of an individuals age, height, fat distribution and composition and weight are necessary to determine the risk of other health problems. It is important to note that an individuals ideal weight for cosmetic reasons may not always coincide with the medical definition of a healthy weight.

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