The medical rationale for weight loss in obesity is that obesity is a disease and is associated with a significant increase in mortality and many health risks including type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and coronary heart disease. The benefits of weight loss include a reduction in the rate of progression from impaired glucose tolerance to diabetes, blood pressure in hypertensive patients, and lipid levels in higher risk patients. Other noncardiac benefits of weight loss include reductions in urinary incontinence, sleep apnea, and depression, as well as improvements in quality of life, physical functioning, and mobility.

All patients who would benefit from weight loss should receive counseling on diet, exercise, and goals for weight management

Candidates for pharmacologic therapy include adults with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 kg/m2, or a BMI of 27 to 29.9 kg/m2 with comorbidities, who have not met weight loss goals (loss of at least 5 percent of total body weight at three to six months) with a comprehensive lifestyle intervention. The decision to initiate drug therapy should be individualized and made only after a careful evaluation of the risks and benefits of all treatment options (lifestyle, pharmacologic, surgical).

Consumption of a reduced calorie diet, frequent self-weighing, and participation in a lifestyle intervention program are strategies to help maintain weight loss. However, the body appears to have a "set point" of adipose tissue mass, and strategies that assume the effective treatment of obesity is only a matter of an individual's "willpower" may lead to repeated failure due to the body's tendency to revert to its set point. Bariatric surgery, which may alter the body's adipose tissue set point, and extended use of anti-obesity pharmacologic therapy may help address these underlying physiologic changes.

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