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6 modern obesity treatments and their effectiveness for weight management

In Australia, two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese. We evaluate 6 obesity treatments.

Written by
Marnie Vinall
Medically reviewed by
Dr Matthew Vickers
Last updated
April 23, 2024
min read
6 modern obesity treatments and their effectiveness for weight management
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In Australia, two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese. For many, diet and exercise is not enough, and so a number of Aussies are looking into a range of treatments for obesity and long-term weight loss.

Obesity refers to excess body weight, which can occur due to an imbalance in energy intake and energy expenditure, genetic factors, environmental influences and/or medical conditions.

Although body fat is essential for bodily functions, including heat insulation, energy and cellular function, having too much can contribute to health problems.

In 2017-18, it was estimated that around 12.5 million people aged over 18 in Australia were either overweight or obese. That’s around 2 in every 3 adults, making being overweight, and obesity in general, a problem we face on an epidemic scale.

This is important to note as studies have shown that obesity or excess weight can increase the risk of a variety of health-related problems – which affects many Australians.

Diagnosing obesity

Historically, body mass index (BMI) has been widely regarded as a standard for classifying obesity in adults. BMI can be calculated as body weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters.

For example, if you are 165cm tall and weigh 60kg, your BMI is calculated as 60 divided by 1.65, equalling a BMI of 22. You can also find a BMI calculator here.

If your BMI is 30 or higher, it falls within the obesity range, which can be subdivided into three categories:

Class 1: BMI of 30 to <35
Class 2: BMI of 35 to <40
Class 3 (severe obesity): BMI of 40 or higher.

However, it’s important to note that although BMI has been used as the go-to measurement of weight for a long time, it’s now being disputed by some for its inaccuracy and criticised for its oversimplification. While it is a screening tool, it doesn’t diagnose body fatness or overall health.

Therefore, for an accurate diagnosis, it’s recommended to see your doctor or a trained health care provider that can perform an appropriate assessment.

How to find out your Body Mass Index (BMI)

Risks of obesity

There are many risks associated with obesity, including a range of diseases and chronic conditions. This includes health conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, gall bladder disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome and gout.

Excess weight has also been shown to be a risk factor for sleep apnoea, some cancers, including breast, endometrial and colon, and musculoskeletal conditions, such as osteoarthritis and back pain.

Plus, obesity is associated with some psychological issues and increased difficulty in managing chronic conditions, along with lower life expectancy.

Obesity treatments

Depending on the causation, there are many treatment options available when it comes to treating obesity.

Through promoting a more healthy lifestyle and through the help of health care professionals, individuals can lower health risks associated with obesity and improve their overall wellbeing.

Weight loss treatment plans

Up to 80% of weight is genetic, so for some of us, eating healthier and exercising isn’t enough to get to a healthier weight.

An emerging theory, known as set point theory, helps to explain that this genetic influence is very much hardwired into our DNA. The theory says some people are born with a higher set point, which is the weight your body fights to maintain.

No matter how much exercise you do, and no matter how many restrictive diets you go on, your body will continue to work against the fight by triggering hormones that keep the weight on.

What should we be wary of

In your search for weight loss treatments, you may see herbal remedies and dietary supplements that claim to help you lose weight. Not only will these not work, but some products bought from overseas can contain ingredients that may be harmful.

If you're looking for a long-term weight loss solution, be sure to seek treatment from an Australian practitioner. This way, you ensure you receive proven options that are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Pilot's weight loss program is backed by dietitians, doctors and endocrinologists, and all treatment plans follow Australian medical guidelines and include evidence-based treatment plans used by Australian GPs and specialists.

Best way to approach it

The best way to approach weight loss is through the help of a doctor or healthcare professional. Additionally, using a health coach is a great way to stay on top of progress and get ongoing support.

Pilot's Metabolic Reset is delivered online via an Australian practitioner, and comes with health coaching and regular medical check-ins for a comprehensive approach. Our revolutionary treatment targets the body’s metabolic patterns, resulting in rapid weight loss for many patients.

In tandem with health coaching, which comes included in the Pilot Metabolic Reset Program, patients will form life-long habits for long-term weight loss.

Dietary changes

Dietary changes and modifications in eating habits can help reduce fat cells in the body, and we can prevent further weight gain by consuming more healthy foods and a reduced calorie diet.

To lose weight, fewer calories need to be consumed each day than burned. This can be achieved through a healthy eating plan that limits saturated fats, trans fats and processed foods; avoids refined carbohydrates, added sugars and salt; and is rich in a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, proteins, oils and dairy products low in fat.

Reducing food intake and adopting low calorie diets can also help you lose weight.

Basically, a healthy, balanced diet can lead to a more healthy weight, which can help treat obesity.


When it comes to dietary changes for weight loss, individuals should expect to make lasting maintainable changes through healthy eating habits rather than fad diets that promise quick fixes.

Individuals should also expect to combine healthy eating with regular exercise to see the most benefits of dietary changes.

What should we be wary of

Some people who reach a healthy weight through healthy meal planning can find it difficult to keep the weight off due to metabolism slowing during weight loss. Additionally, hormonal factors can promote re-weight gain.

To counter this, track your weight regularly and keep a record where progress can be guided by a doctor or trained health professional.

Best way to approach it

The most important element when it comes to dietary changes to lose weight is sticking to them. Pilot's Weight Reset Shakes offer a meal plan guide and continuous education and have been developed with dietitians and doctors, to help you lose weight and keep it off.

To make healthy eating a life-long habit, find options that you prefer and enjoy – that way, you’re more likely to stick with it.

Importantly, dietary changes also work best when in combination with regular exercise and physical activity.

Exercise and activity

Physical exercise and activity includes scheduled workouts, such as running, walking or gym classes, and incidental activities, such as gardening or housework. Basically, anything that gets the blood flowing can contribute to the treatment of obesity and increased healthy living.

However, as they are many different types of movement, getting into a good exercise routine should be done with the help of a doctor or trained professional to lose weight.


When creating exercise habits, expect to go slow at the start and set achievable goals. If you’re new to physical activity, don’t try and go from zero to one hundred.

You may need to keep an exercise diary, including the number of calories burned each day (an exercise watch can help with this, too!) to assist in losing weight.

What should we be wary of

Individuals using physical activity to lose weight should be wary of exercise trends or challenges, which promise rapid weight loss as they are unlikely to offer sustainable solutions. Instead, sustainable exercise habits should be created.

Best way to approach it

Get a good understanding of your current physical activity levels, which will set a good foundation to find ways to improve. Then, start increasing exercise at a maintainable pace with achievable goals. For example, don’t try and go from no running a week to trying to do a half marathon.

It’s about small incremental changes that build up to regular exercise that complements a healthy diet.

Weight management programs

Doctors may advise some people living with obesity to take part in weight management programs to reduce weight and maintain its loss. These plans are designed with a doctor or trained weight specialist that are individualised and specific to the person’s needs and body.

Programs can help with tracking progress and sticking to healthy eating and exercise plans. They can also involve using devices, such as smartphone apps and pedometers.


By choosing to go on a weight management program, individuals should expect to make maintainable lifestyle changes that are specific to their needs. This is by setting realistic weight loss goals.

What should we be wary of

When choosing a weight management program, it’s important to avoid ones that replace food with powders or supplements, focuses on quick weight loss methods rather than life-long sustainable changes or cuts out any major food group.

Best way to approach it

The best way to approach a weight management program is through consulting your doctor or an accredited practising dietitian. Find a reputable weight management service that has a focus on sustainable and safe methods for weight loss, rather than promising any quick fixes.

Weight loss devices

There are a range of weight-loss devices readily becoming available on the market, which can help in reducing fat cells in the body and managing obesity. These include electrical stimulation systems, gastric balloon systems and gastric emptying systems.


It is generally recommended that the use of a weight loss device is accompanied by lifestyle changes, including a healthy diet and increased exercise or physical activity.

What should we be wary of

As many weight loss devices have only recently been approved, there is limited long-term data on their effectiveness. Additionally, some medical devices carry certain risks, including inflammation and discomfort.

Best way to approach it

The best way to approach using weight loss devices is through guidance by a doctor or trained weight loss specialist.

Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery is weight loss surgery of the stomach, which affects digestion and makes the stomach smaller, causing the person to fuller after smaller amounts of food.

The three main types in Australia are lap band surgery, gastric bypass and gastric sleeve surgery.


Those undergoing bariatric surgery should expect to also make lifestyle changes, such as following a healthy dietary plan, taking supplements or following a weight management program.

Additionally, some people who undergo bariatric surgery might initially lose weight but then regain it after some time has passed since the operation.

What should we be wary of

As with any operation, there are always risks associated. These can include significant loss of blood, infection or a reaction to the anaesthetic. Each bariatric surgery comes with different risks, so make sure to talk these over with your doctor before proceeding.

Best way to approach it

The best way to approach any potential surgeries for weight loss is to first consult your doctor. They can help guide you in making informed decisions that are right for you.

Of course, surgery is quite an extreme option for weight loss, and for men struggling with weight gain, it pays to consider less invasive options before defaulting to a medical procedure.

With a number of treatments available, varying from lifestyle changes to surgery, it can be difficult to choose the best option for you. Before making any decision around your health, it's recommended to talk to a trusted doctor or healthcare professional.

Pilot provides easy access to Australian accredited practitioners who can help you determine the obesity treatment most suitable to you.


1. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/risk-factors/risk-factors-to-health/contents/overweight-and-obesity

2. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/obesity#increased-risk-of-chronic-disease

3. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/overweight-and-obesity

4. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/defining.html

5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-bmi-accurate#:~:text=Though it has been used,in medical and fitness settings.

6. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/obesity

7. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/overweight-and-obesity

8. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/adult-overweight-obesity/eating-physical-activity

9. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/weight-loss-a-healthy-approach

10. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/adult-overweight-obesity/eating-physical-activity

11. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/weight-loss-a-healthy-approach#what-energy-are-you-burning-through-movement

12. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41366-019-0348-6

13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5358074/

14. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/adult-overweight-obesity/treatment#plan

15. https://www.tga.gov.au/overseas-weight-loss-products

16. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/guide-to-bariatric-surgery

17. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/medical-devices-weight-loss-and-weight-management-what-know

18. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/adult-overweight-obesity/treatment#plan

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