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10 things to know about weight management

by Dr. Andrew VanOsdol, M.D.

The scale is not your enemy, but it is also not your friend.

Obesity is classified based on a person’s height and weight. However, weight alone does not dictate a person’s overall health. More importantly, you need to know how much of your body weight is muscle mass vs fat mass. Muscle mass is associated with overall health and fitness while fat mass is associated with poor health and comorbidities. Considering weight is less important than physical fitness when it comes to health.

Men and women tend to carry fat differently

While fat mass is associated with various disease processes, not all fat is the same. Women tend to carry fat in their thighs and hips while men tend to carry fat inside their abdomen around the intestine. Male fat patterns are associated with higher risk of other diseases than female fat patterns. So while females tend to carry their weight in the hips and thighs where it is more visible, this can actually be a good thing for their health.

Obesity is a serious health issue.

Obesity is a disease that affects adults and children across the country. It comes with many chronic and potentially serious impacts to a person’s health, such as diabetes or heart disease. There are many stereotypes and cultural perceptions associated with obesity. Weight management and treatment of obesity should be approached with the goal of objectively improving individual health and quality of life. It should not be about achieving or maintaining a subjective standard of beauty.

Healthy fat from food is not your enemy, sugar is

Your body does not utilize fats very efficiently and actually has a hard time storing fats as fat. Additionally, fats actually delay gastric emptying and increase satisfaction from food. While some fats are not good for you, healthy fats are an important part of our diet and do not need to be avoided.

Misinformation and common misconceptions have led people to avoid fat. As a result many foods may advertise low or no fat, but replace the fat with sugar to make it taste good. Sugar is broken down very quickly and your body can easily turn it into fat. This means calories consumed in the form of sugar are more likely to turn into fat and leave you feeling hungry again more quickly. It is always a good idea to take a close look at what you are eating and remember that a calorie is not just a calorie.

Your body fights against weight loss

Multiple studies have shown a person’s body actually fights against them to regain weight as it is lost. This happens because losing weight can also lower your metabolic rate. Keeping muscle mass can help keep your metabolic rate high.

Losing weight decreases your physical activity

Exercise is an essential part of weight management. Physical activity helps maintain muscle mass and helps people stay healthy. Losing weight also makes life easier in a lot of ways because you are no longer carrying it with you everywhere. While this is convenient, it actually means you get less activity in your day through daily routines. Since you don’t have to carry that weight around, your muscles are not working as hard. Less activity can lead to atrophy which means a loss of muscle mass.

Food is an important part of our emotional health

Food plays a significant role in our lives, not just our physical health. There are many strong social and emotional connections with food. We all have a tendency to eat unhealthy things when we are stressed or have a bad day and also tend to “reward” ourselves with unhealthy food when we have a good day. Recognizing the role that food plays in your personal and social life is an important step in any healthy lifestyle plan.

Surgery can help reset your body’s metabolism

It is important to remember that surgery is not the “easy way out” when it comes to weight loss. It is the most effective way to lose a significant amount of weight and keep the weight off long term. Weight loss surgery actually works by changing hormones in your body and how it responds to food.

Bariatric Surgery is safer than having your appendix or gallbladder removed

Advances in surgical technique over the last few decades have significantly decreased the risk associated with weight loss surgery. While everything we do in life has risk, weight loss surgery is actually one of the safest surgeries you can have, even when compared to other common and low risk surgeries.

Weight loss surgery doesn’t just help you lose weight but helps you be healthier

On average, people who have weight loss surgery live around ten years longer than people of the same weight that do not have weight loss surgery. The right operation can help treat and manage diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heartburn and lower your risk of many other diseases.

For more information about weight loss and weight management, we encourage you to contact our weight management team at 605-644-4280 or visit


Dr. Andrew VanOsdol, M.D., is a general surgeon with fellowship training in Advanced Minimally Invasive Gastrointestinal Surgery. He is the only surgeon in South Dakota who is fellowship-trained in bariatrics.

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