Obesity from a Dietitian’s perspective

Ms. YU Man Wai Vivien - Council Member, HKOS

People gain weight when calories in exceed calories out. Popular dietary approaches for weight loss have generated widespread interest and considerable debate. While energy balance remains the cornerstone of weight control (i.e., calories still count), new diets and books promising weight loss by limiting certain foods or macronutrients rather than energy are constantly emerging and hitting the best seller list. Although their names and approaches may change over time, their basic premise has not. They market “success” as a large weight loss over a short period with little effort. Given the allure of a quick fix, overweight and obese individuals are often in search of the next “best” diet. The public's willingness to try diverse and, in some cases, poorly researched dietary approaches underscores their long-standing struggle to control their weight and the need for more effective strategies to help create an energy deficit.

Successful treatment of overweight and obesity in adults requires the ability of adopting and maintaining lifestyle behaviors, which contribute to both sides of the energy-balance equation. Lifestyle behaviors are influenced by several factors at differing levels of the socio-ecological model, which include factors at the intrapersonal, community and organizational, and government and public level. To address obesity, it is proposed that several factors at differing levels need to be targeted to assist with the development and maintenance of behaviors that are necessary for weight loss and successful weight-loss maintenance. Registered dietitians, as a part of a multidisciplinary team, need to be current and skilled in weight management to effectively assist and lead efforts that can reduce the obesity epidemic.