Newswise — As January arrives, so does the season for resolutions and a fresh start. The benefits of maintaining a healthy weight are huge – reduced risk of cardiovascular complications, Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, some cancers and the list goes on.

But anyone who has tried to lose weight and keep it off can tell you, it’s not easy. What works for one person, may not work for another – patients need options. Here’s what Jefferson experts say about what works for getting to and maintaining a healthy weight.

Skill DevelopmentKatie Gill and Cheryl Marco, Registered Dietitians with Jefferson’s Comprehensive Weight Management Program in Philadelphia, Pa, said that our environment is set up to promote overeating and inactivity. By developing skills to alter or work around the environment, long-term weight loss and maintenance is possible.

“Many popular diet programs provide weight loss results, however many do not provide the tools necessary to maintain the weight loss once the diet program is over. With skill development, the emphasis is on tools and techniques that one can use for the rest of their life to maintain weight loss long term,” said Gill. “Skill Development works because when it comes to managing body weight, no one is ever done. Losing weight is just the beginning.”

Marco and Gill explain that long term success is much more complex than handing someone a diet plan. If it was that easy, no one would struggle with being overweight or obese. Skill Development helps patients deal with unexpected foods that seem to show up in our day; chips in the kitchen, candy dish on a co-workers desk, free samples at the grocery store, the temptation to grab takeout after a stressful day. Willpower isn’t enough – it is short-lived and fickle. Relying on skills and a plan has lasting effects.

Medical ManagementPrimary care physicians and providers who are specially trained in obesity management can help patients get to and maintain a healthy weight.

“Patients should feel comfortable addressing their weight with their physicians. Feel free to bring it up and ask questions,” said Janine Kyrillos, M.D., Director of Jefferson’s Comprehensive Weight Management Program in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. “If you feel judged or don’t feel like you are getting the help you need, look for a physician who specializes in obesity.”

Dr. Kyrillos finds that for people who struggle with obesity, multiple modalities are needed.

“There are over 150 receptors in our gut that send signals to the brain that regulate our hunger and satiety. These signals were designed in the stone age, when food was scarce,” Kyrillos said. “Now, in a time and culture where food is abundant, these signals conspire against our health.”

She counsels patients on how sleep, medications, stress and activity levels can all be contributing to weight gain.

The science behind weight maintenance is evolving quickly. By working with a physician or obesity specialist, patients can keep up with the latest advancements to help them get to and maintain a healthy weight.

Weight Loss SurgeryA comprehensive weight loss surgery program can help patients get to and maintain a healthy weight. Michael R. Kammerer, M.D., Bariatric Surgeon at Jefferson, pointed to research that shows patients, on average, can see up to a 70% loss of their excess weight in an 18-month time period after the procedure. In addition, most patients with diabetes, hypertension and/or sleep apnea see usually improvements in these conditions after surgery.

“Weight loss surgery works because it is part of a full multidisciplinary approach to weight loss,” said Michael R. Kammerer, M.D., bariatric surgeon at Jefferson. “A good weight loss surgery program will involve the patient in not only medical and surgical intervention from the surgeon, but also dietary counseling from a registered dietitian skilled in weight loss surgery, and exercise counseling from physicians, nurse practitioners and/or physician assistants.”

Dr. Kammerer explained that weight loss surgery enables patients to feel full on a smaller volume of food, and also helps to decrease hormones involved in appetite stimulation.

“Though the surgery is more successful than diet and exercise alone, it still requires diet and exercise in conjunction with the surgical procedure,” Dr. Kammerer said.

Weight loss surgery will work for patients who qualify for surgery and are willing engage in a comprehensive weight loss surgery program. This involves surgery, medical management, dietary adjustment and a good exercise program.