Dr Marvin Chua, Consultant, General Medicine (Endocrinology), SKH, shared that obesity is a common and chronic disease that is associated with more than 200 diseases affecting every organ system from head to toe, including Diabetes Mellitus (DM), coronary heart disease, cancer, obstructive sleep apnea and fatty liver disease. Sharing about his encounters with patients at the Sengkang General Hospital Weight Improvement Therapy and Complete Health (SWITCH) Centre, Dr Chua said that impediments to weight loss, such as binge-eating and extensive food cravings, might sometimes point to underlying psychological distress or mental illness. These should be addressed first in order to help the patients lose weight.
Dr Chua also explained that because we all have a fat mass set point which our body tends to persistently stick to, it is possible to experience weight plateau or even weight gain following initial weight loss. Hence patients need not feel discouraged if they are unable to lose more weight than their initial efforts. Although lifestyle intervention is the foundation of successful weight management, there are other treatment modalities including medications, meal replacements and bariatric surgery. But our focus should be on improving overall health, rather than simply reducing numbers on the weighting scale. Dr Chua likened weight management to a journey, one that is like a marathon, not a sprint. As with any journey, there are bound to be obstacles, but with perseverance and commitment, all these obstacles can eventually be overcome.