How Are Overweight and Obesity Treated?

Successful weight-loss treatments include setting goals and making lifestyle changes, such as eating fewer calories and being physically active. Medicines and weight-loss surgery also are options for some people if lifestyle changes aren’t enough.

Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic weight-loss goals is an important first step to losing weight.

For Adults

  • Try to lose 5 to 10 percent of your current weight over 6 months. This will lower your risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) and other conditions.
  • The best way to lose weight is slowly. A weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week is do-able, safe, and will help you keep off the weight. It also will give you the time to make new, healthy lifestyle changes.
  • If you’ve lost 10 percent of your body weight, have kept it off for 6 months, and are still overweight or obese, you may want to consider further weight loss.

For Children and Teens

  • If your child is overweight or at risk for overweight or obesity, the goal is to maintain his or her current weight and to focus on eating healthy and being physically active. This should be part of a family effort to make lifestyle changes.
  • If your child is overweight or obese and has a health condition related to overweight or obesity, your doctor may refer you to a pediatric obesity treatment center.

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes can help you and your family achieve long-term weight-loss success. Example of lifestyle changes include:

  • Focusing on balancing energy IN (calories from food and drinks) with energy OUT (physical activity)
  • Following a healthy eating plan
  • Learning how to adopt healthy lifestyle habits

Over time, these changes will become part of your everyday life.

Calories

Cutting back on calories (energy IN) will help you lose weight. To lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, adults should cut back their calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 calories a day.

  • In general, having 1,000 to 1,200 calories a day will help most women lose weight safely.
  • In general, having 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day will help most men lose weight safely. This calorie range also is suitable for women who weigh 165 pounds or more or who exercise routinely.

These calorie levels are a guide and may need to be adjusted. If you eat 1,600 calories a day but don’t lose weight, then you may want to cut back to 1,200 calories. If you’re hungry on either diet, then you may want to add 100 to 200 calories a day.

Very low-calorie diets with fewer than 800 calories a day shouldn’t be used unless your doctor is monitoring you.

For overweight children and teens, it’s important to slow the rate of weight gain. However, reduced-calorie diets aren’t advised unless you talk with a health care provider.