What You Need to Know

As you begin your weight-loss journey, there are a number of questions to consider, including:

What is my body mass index? 

Body mass index (BMI) is a number calculated from your weight and height and is an indicator of total body fat. The higher your BMI, the higher your body fat content, and the greater the risk of a wide range of diseases. To calculate your BMI, visit https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm

The BMI is not a perfect way to measure weight status. Considerations such as age and level of exercise need to be taken into consideration as well. Waist circumference and family or personal history of weight-related diseases are also important.

How much weight do I need to lose?

This all depends on your reasons and goals.

Improvement in diseases: If you have multiple obesity-driven medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or fatty liver, a modest weight loss of around 5 percent of your current weight will likely result in significant improvement. However, this is still an inexact and very individual medical area.

Body image: Any level of weight loss can help with body image. We will work closely with you as a team to understand your goals and which of our interventions can best address them.

Peace of mind: If your weight is a constant source of concern it will take a toll on your happiness and feeling of well-being. The knowledge that your obesity puts you at an increased risk for diseases can add to your stress, and the situation can turn into a negative spiral. Losing the excess weight and regaining your health can have a positive impact on virtually every aspect of your life.

Why is weight loss so difficult?

For most of our existence, humans have lived with the constant risk of starvation. Our bodies have developed the ability to obtain extra nutrients for an anticipated famine. They have developed adaptations at every level, from our thoughts, to our preference for the smell and taste of calorie-dense foods. to obtaining food even if we do not need it at that time. These bring us pleasure, increase our chances of surviving a famine, and we actively seek them out.

When we start losing weight, the body interprets this as a famine situation. Famine has always meant risk of death, so the body does everything it can to stop weight loss. Metabolism slows down to conserve energy, and the urge for calorie-dense foods can increase. So even if a person is overweight, the body will still fight weight loss by many adaptations. We will work with you to help you through these natural responses as you lose weight.

What will this mean for my family? 

Having a healthy weight is about much more than what you eat. It is greatly affected by work hours, sleeping habits, stress in your life and hobbies among many other things. Changes in any of these can have significant impact on your family life and dynamics. This is a two-way process, with changes in your routine directly affecting your family, and the other way around.

Ideally we would like you to bring at least one household member to an appointment so that we can better understand your home situation, and your family can understand what you are going through. This makes for a more relaxed and holistic environment.

Will my insurance entitle me to multiple visits?

If your BMI is greater than 30, most insurance plans entitle you to 22 visits per year to our program.

Most of the interventions, such as consultation with a registered dietitian and medications, are usually covered by insurance, but others, such as the Optifast® meal replacement program, are not covered.

Other Obesity Services at Yale: