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Healthy Weight Center

Can Doctors Starve Me Until I'm Healthy?

12/12/2011

Question:

I am 5`1 and weigh 250 lbs, which means I have over 100 lbs or at least 1/2 my body weight to lose. My doctor wants me to get weight loss surgery. But according to my research the most likely outcome is that I will wind up weighing about 40 lbs less 5 years from now and will have problems with nutritional deficiencies for the rest of my life. I would also have a 40% chance of having to be rehospitalized for complications. That just does not seem like a good enough success rate to justify the expense and the effects on my body. Plus, the most likely outcome would leave me still obese (210 lbs).

So my question is, and this is dead serious: Why can`t they just put really obese people like me in the hospital in a medically induced coma and starve us until we are a normal weight? I know that seems drastic, but is it really more drastic than surgery that permanently alters your digestive tract? I know they can`t literally give an obese person 0 calories, but there must be enough medical knowledge to tube feed a person in an artificial coma with the bare minimum of nutrients so that they don`t die. 

Really, I feel like I am out of options. So why can`t they just put a person like me in a coma and starve me? I know that sounds crazy but there aren`t any non-crazy choices.

Answer:

I can certainly appreciate your concern about having surgery for weight loss and all the trials and tribulations with your past dieting attempts. Since there is no magic pill here and realistically putting someone in "a medically induced coma and starving them until they are a normal weight" is not possible, I'd recommend having a consult with a psychologist/psychiatrist to see where your problem stems from. Realizing that most diets fail us, while working with the counselor, I'd recommend seeing a Registered Dietitian skilled in using a "non diet approach" to weight loss. This focuses more on a thought process than calorie counting. You might start by reading the book "Intuitive Eating" by E. Tribole.

Don't give up. Remember that quick weight loss is often temporary and a nice, slow & steady weight loss often stays off for a lifetime (because you have changed your lifestyle habits).

Best of luck to you and Happy Holidays.

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Response by:

Jane   Korsberg, MS, RD, LD Jane Korsberg, MS, RD, LD
Senior Instructor of Nutrition
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University