Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - 51

51

be complications, but they are rare," Dr. Varney says.
Phentermine, she adds, is not dangerous like fenfluramine, which was pulled off the market years ago after it
was found to cause heart valve damage. Another drug,
diethylpropion, is "closely related to amphetamines [a
group of drugs that includes 'speed'], but it is not addictive," Dr. Varney says. "I had a patient whose provider
told them, 'That stuff is no better than what you can get
on the street.' There is definitely a bias against weight-loss
medication that's been around since the 1960s."

Fact 5:

Losing a little brings big health
gains. "I've had one patient lose
100 pounds. I have another patient where she's just been
gaining and gaining over the last 10 years and finally we
put the finger in the dam and she lost about 3 percent
of her body weight," Dr. Varney shares. "This doesn't
sound like a lot, but she's not gaining anymore, and
that's a huge deal. Genetically, it might be very hard for
someone to reach an ideal weight, but the real goal is just
improvement of health. Studies show that just a 10 percent reduction of body weight is significant in regard to
decreased risk of heart attack or stroke. You get the best
benefit from weight loss at the first 10 percent, so losing
18 pounds if you're 180 is a big step."

Fact 6:

Bariatric surgery is effective.
But, Dr. Varney says, some patients
need medication or other prescribed measures to lose
weight and keep it off. When people lose an extreme
amount of weight in a short time, they will develop a
slow metabolism that persists for years, and it makes
weight maintenance difficult. This happens not just
after surgery. One participant on the Biggest Loser TV
show, for example, was found to burn 800 fewer calories a day than would be expected for a man his size.
Consequently, his slow metabolism persisted six years
after participating in the show.

PHOTO BY UVA HEALTH

PHOTO BY GETTY IMAGES

Fact 7:

Our understanding of obesity is
advancing quickly. "Maintaining
board certification in obesity science requires continuing education on a yearly basis. This is because obesity
science is changing rapidly, as a greater number of physicians and scientists are devoting more research to it,
given our current obesity epidemic," Dr. Varney says.
"The diet and medication regimens that I was prescribing five years ago are completely different from what I'm
prescribing now. For a long time, it was low fat, low fat,
low fat, and now we have 73 good, peer-reviewed studies
that show a low-carb diet is best for weight loss." *

Find Resources for
Weight Loss

With obesity underlying most health issues, Catherine
Varney, DO, is one of several UVA Health doctors with board
certification in obesity medicine. Together, they are working to create a designated obesity clinic and collaborate
closely with Peter Hallowell, MD, and Bruce Schirmer, MD,
who oversee the UVA Health weight-loss surgery program.
See if you might qualify for surgery and find weight-loss
resources at uvahealth.com/weight-loss-surgery.

VIM & VIGOR WINTER 2020

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9/21/20 4:33 PM


http://www.uvahealth.com/weight-loss-surgery

Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA

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Vim & Vigor - Winter 2020 - UVA - Contents
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