The Perils of Weight Loss Programs and Bariatric Medicine

Paul Goldberg, MPH, DC, DACBN, DCBCN

One of the more perilous specialties within the field of Allopathic Medicine is that of Bariatrics i.e. Medical Weight Loss. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2010 revealed that more than 1 in 3 adults are now considered to be obese with more than 2 out of three adults being overweight or obese. Overweight / obese conditions present significant health challenges to the individual as well as to the public health of our nation.

Obesity/overweight conditions are intimately related to a wide range of serious disease issues in the United States:

·      Heart Disease
·      Stroke
·      Cancer
·    Diabetes
·      Inflammatory Disorders in general

·      Musculoskeletal Disorders
·      Skin Disorders
·      Hormonal Irregularities
·      Psychological Issues 
·      Shortened Lifespan

The “treatment” of obesity/overweight conditions, however, is a serious error, as is the “treatment” of most conditions as both my patients and students have heard me harp on for over 40 years. Obesity is a health problem that needs to be addressed by attending to the overall health of the individual, not simply the overweight/obese condition.

Weight loss programs focusing simply on the weight of the individual do not work. They do not build health. Period. Well over ninety percent of the people that lose weight on “weight loss programs” whether under the care of a physician (Bariatric/Medical Weight Loss Program) or via a “Weight Loss Clinic” or other scheme that focuses on weight loss alone, will gain back all the weight lost within a single year. By the two-year mark that figure is close to 100% with many, in addition, putting on additional pounds over where they started.

Put simply, weight loss programs are a very serious error. Health promoting programs targeting the individual’s overall health, the reasons why they are not healthy (including their overweight status) and the re-creation of that person’s overall health, targeting their individual needs, their Biochemical Individuality, their family/social backgrounds, their lifestyle and any other etiological factors that led to their impaired health should be our focus. This will inevitably result not only in a more efficient return of the individual to an improved and stable health status but will also be more effective in targeting those specific needs of the individual to maintain good health which includes a healthy weight status.

We have many before and after pictures of our patients (see examples below) that show their improved health status from a wide variety of conditions. The overweight/obese patients do indeed exhibit a return to a healthy weight but this is a consequence of their getting healthy. Good health and appropriate weight go hand in hand. When we address the overall health and individual needs of the person we see not just the weight normalize (and usually quite quickly) but also the energy soars, the skin clears, the joint pains dissipate, the mood elevates, the sexual vigor improves…the whole organism enjoys a higher level of sustained and reliable health and well being.

Bariatric Medicine is particularly hazardous. Relying on dangerous pharmaceutical agents and surgical procedures that destroy normal physiology any weight loss that occurs is not only almost always temporary but is accompanied by severe side effects, many of which can be permanent. Understanding the causes of disease in each case (and obesity is a dis-ease) and addressing those causes to re-create health is always a preferred, more long lasting and safer approach.

A recent patient of ours, Ms. Gianella La Torre who began seeing a Bariatric Medical Physician when she was fifteen years old trying to reduce her weight is an example of the perilous path of “weight loss programs” and Bariatric Medicine (see video interview with Gianella to the right). At the time she was only mildly overweight and in excellent overall health. The nightmare that followed led her down a path that led to taking extremely toxic drugs, pancreatitis, a severe case of ulcerative colitis and came close to the removal of her colon, tragic at any age, let alone for such a young person just starting their life.

Gianella's Medical History: A Timeline:

1) Saw Bariatric Physician for weight loss. Prescribed appetite suppressants and laxatives (Dulcolax and Miralax).
2) Severe bloating and gas after meals. Constipation worsens. 
3) Bloody stool, heavy mucus. Intense diarrhea.
4) Saw Gastroenterologist. Colonoscopy performed. Diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. 
5) Prescribed Asacol.  Developed Pancreatitis as a side effect of Asacol. 
6) Discontinued Asacol. Prescribed Prednisone (Steroids). (See article "Problems with Prednisone")
7) Hospitalized with severe anemia. Received blood transfusion.
8) Symptoms worsened. Prescribed Remicaide. 
9)  Neurological symptoms begin (side effect of Remicaide). 
10) Gastroenterologist discusses with Gianella the possibility of removing her colon surgically. 
11) Gianella comes the Goldberg Clinic. 

The interview with Gianella and her Mother, Mrs. LaTorre demonstrates the risky path Bariatrics and other weight loss programs often entail and how by addressing the causes of disease, on an individual basis, and embarking on a health building program, reliable health without the hazards of Bariatrics or other weight loss programs can be obtained in a sane and rational manner.

We thank Gianella and Mrs. LaTorre for sharing their harrowing experience with us, which fortunately had a happy ending (Gianella will soon be off to a top rated University to study). I hope this example will serve as both a valuable lesson and inspiration to others.