Thursday, March 3, 2016

Stop Reminding Me...or Not!

If you ever hear someone say that they obesity epidemic comes down to just one root cause, be very suspicious. The fact of the matter is that the reason that procedures like the gastric sleeve have become the gold standard for obesity treatment is that severe obesity, especially, is so complex, only by directly addressing the issue of appetite and by making it physically uncomfortable to overeat can real progress apparently be made.

Still, of all the usual culprits that people mention when they discuss obesity, the last one we would ever think of is that people are not being reminded enough of their weight problem. Yet, a Colorado study recently found that Spanish language text messages sent to type 2 diabetes patients seemed to support a healthy lifestyle to the extent of encouraging modest weight loss. While this is obviously no magic bullet for dealing with severe obesity especially, it is interesting that these reminders had any impact at all. After all, in a society as obsessed with weight issues as ours, it's not likely that people with weight issues ever forget about them for any length of time.

Perhaps it's the sense that someone cares enough to send these messages that's encouraging people to take positive steps towards weight control. Or maybe it's that the text messages disrupt our usual self-talk and jar us into taking real action to prevent overeating. Text messages are, of course, very far from a substitute for the right kind of bariatric surgery, but they are food for thought.

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