“Our environment is supportive of weight gain. It feels like an uphill
battle,” said Dr. Laure DeMattia, a board-certified family and obesity
medicine physician at INTEGRIS Weight Loss Center in Oklahoma City.
While obesity rates have increased across the nation over the past few
decades, Oklahoma’s obesity ranking has jumped from the bottom to the top
in less than 20 years – an unsettling trend.
Oklahoma now has the eighth-highest adult obesity rate in the United
States, affecting almost 34 percent of adults, according to a report from
health research advocacy groups Trust for America’s Health and the Robert
Wood Johnson Foundation, released in September.
The fact that one in three adult Oklahomans is obese ranks the state in the
top 10 for highest obesity rates in the country.
DeMattia, who just recently moved to Oklahoma, said there are cultural and
environmental factors that play into this.
“I am new to Oklahoma and I noticed that there are some culinary delights
here that are very hard to resist and put people at risk for gaining
weight,” she said.
Unfortunately, many Oklahomans also lack access to low-priced, healthy food
Furthermore, Oklahomans tend to rely on cars for their commute to and from
work and school. This increasingly sedentary lifestyle also contributes
significantly to weight gain.
Of course there are also factors such as genetics, health or other
physiological factors contributing to the problem.
Being up against these obstacles means that people need all the tools they
can get to be successful.
The INTEGRIS Weight Loss Center, located at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical
Center, offers seminars, support groups, surgical procedures and physician
support for any weight loss journey – in short, anything one may need to be
At INTEGRIS, patients not only have access to physicians that are focused
on weight loss therapies, but there are dietitians, physical therapists,
health psychologist and more. In 2017, INTEGRIS will also introduce more
nutrition and cooking classes.
“When people make that weight loss decision, we work with patients
one-on-one to support their decision,” DeMattia said.
It’s important to have plenty of support and available resources on your
weight loss journey.
“It helps surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals, having a
workout buddy or attending a support group,” she said.
The clinic’s weight loss seminars
combine education and community to give people a safe, supportive space to
learn and progress. Individuals can also join local support groups that meet
regularly in the community or on the INTEGRIS campus.
DeMattia said the cornerstones of successful weight loss are nutrition,
exercise, social support, stress reduction and sleep.
A healthy diet, rich in fresh, whole foods, is the top
priority for achieving and maintaining weight loss.
Regular exercise – anything from leisurely walks to joining a recreational
sports team – will give you more energy and help the body to start burning
DeMattia said INTEGRIS physicians understand what people are up against
with busy schedules and hectic routines, and will work to identify a
workout program that will work for them.
“We want to make physical activity fun. We want to find what makes them
move – literally,” she said.
That said, weight loss is hard. Keeping it off is harder. About 80 percent
of people who lose weight gain it all back, and sometimes more, within a
year, experts say.
Understanding why weight loss is so difficult can help patients
stop beating themselves up over a setback, and increase their chances of
So why is it so hard to change behaviors?
“It is a question I get asked by our patients every day,” DeMattia said.
“Our body is trained to maintain.”
It is hard to change habits and readjust physiological patterns in the
battle against obesity. No wonder many experts compare this struggle with
The fat set-point theory, for instance, suggests that body weight is
regulated at a predetermined or preferred level by a feedback control
mechanism, and the body aims to maintain that weight. Once you gain the
weight, the body is not easily going to give it up, but instead store it.
Furthermore, many people that are overweight have a metabolic problem that
leaves them feeling hungry or not satisfied. The normal feedback mechanisms
no longer work, and willpower fails.
Breaking your usual habits to help with weight loss is also difficult. As
we get older and weight does not come off as easily as it did in the past,
it is challenging to retrain the brain to accept new eating patterns or
changes in routine.
The good news is that anytime people make a major change in their lives it
starts a positive upcycle, DeMattia said.
“People who begin exercising, often begin eating better,” she said.
However, in some cases medical intervention may be the best way. Obesity
can lead to chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and
heart disease. Fortunately, it can often be reversed by basic changes to
diet and lifestyle, but there is hope for those who have not been
Individuals who have implemented a healthy diet and have been exercising
regularly but have not lost much weight might be eligible for a surgical weight loss procedure.
“I want people to understand that obesity is a chronic disease,” DeMattia
said. “Different people require different treatments.”
These procedures are for people who are not able to lose weight despite
multiple attempts or sustain the weight loss. Surgical weight loss
procedures have been proven very effective when accompanied by a healthy
diet and an adequate amount of regular exercise.
Should medical intervention be needed either in form of medication or
weight loss surgery, INTEGRIS physicians are among the leading experts in
She added that in her career, she has seen thousands of patients benefit
from bariatric surgery procedures. Of
course they benefit from weight loss, but also from lowering their risk for
diabetes, some forms of cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure.
“Let’s think about cancer. There are many different options to treat
cancer. Not every cancer patient requires surgery,” she said. “We need to
look at obesity and the different types of obesity the same way. We need to
treat obesity with different approaches based on the individual patient’s
In order to bring down the Oklahoma obesity rate for both adults and
children, Oklahomans have to implement effective changes in their
day-to-day lives – and get the help they need to be successful.
“We are here to help,” she said. “We will walk with our patient no matter
what path they choose – surgical, nonsurgical. We are here for them.”
For more information and resources, visit integrisweightloss.com
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