Weight Loss Glossary of Terms

March 9, 2016
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Every discipline and specialty—even weight loss—has its own language. Having a weight loss vocabulary primer handy can ease anxiety and let you focus on what you really need to know. The more you understand, the greater your odds for successful weight loss and maintenance will be. Here are some of the most frequently used—and most frequently misunderstood—weight loss terms.

Bariatric — Often used with other terms, bariatric simply refers to the treatment of obesity. The terms bariatric surgery and gastric surgery are often used interchangeably.

BMI — Short for body mass index, your BMI is a number that expresses the relationship between your height and weight. Often displayed in color-coded charts, BMI numbers fall within ranges termed underweight, healthy weight, overweight, obese and extremely obese. BMI’s shortcoming is that it does not account for muscle mass or skeletal build.

BFP — Body fat percentage, or BFP, represents the amount, or percentage, of fat your body contains, regardless of your height or weight. Measurements from calipers or bioelectrical impedance analysis provide an objective way of measuring fitness by differentiating fat from muscle, bone mass and other tissue.

Carbohydrates — Carbohydrates come in two forms: healthy, complex carbs and the less desirable simple carbs. Complex carbohydrates include healthy choices like whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans. Simple carbohydrates tend to be highly processed foods like breads, baked goods and sugary drinks that have high glycemic indexes and cause weight gain.

Comorbid Conditions — Other health conditions often accompany or are related to a primary health condition. For obesity, comorbid conditions often include diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, acid reflux, cancer, depression, osteoarthritis, incontinence and reproductive issues.

Diet — At its most basic, diet is simply what you eat. Diets can be designed to any flavor, taste or requirement, from unlimited to highly restrictive to supplemented, depending on a patient’s needs.

Endoscopy — As a nonsurgical procedure, a doctor inserts a long, thin, flexible tube fitted with a tiny camera into a patient’s mouth and through the esophagus to view their upper digestive tract on a screen. Your doctor may use other specialized instruments attached to the endoscope to remove tissue for biopsy.

EWL — Excess Weight Loss

Exercise — The term exercise applies to any and all physical movement. Any physical exertion—from cleaning a house or doing yard work to walking the block or attending an exercise class—qualifies.

Gastric Surgery — Gastric refers to the stomach while gastrointestinal includes both the stomach and intestines. Weight loss procedures typically include the term gastric or bariatric. All focus on reducing stomach size, food intake and appetite and can be performed laparoscopically:

  • Gastric Balloon — Nonsurgical and temporary, the procedure places a saline-filled balloon in the stomach.
  • Gastric Band — A small inflatable donut restricts stomach size.
  • Gastric Bypass — A small pouch substitutes for the bypassed stomach and is reattached to the small intestine.
  • Gastric Sleeve — Part of the stomach is removed.
  • Biliary Pancreatic Diversion with Duodenal Switch — Part of the stomach is removed, and the small intestine is divided, with one part handling food and the other transporting bile. The dual path is merged in the large intestine.

IBW — Ideal Body Weight

Kilocalorie — For food and nutrition, what we commonly refer to as a calorie is actually a kilocalorie—1,000 true calories of energy or one large calorie. That means that a 200-calorie muffin is actually 200,000-kilocalories.

Laparoscopy — Instead of open surgery, laparoscopy is a minimally invasive technique. The surgeon performs the surgical procedure by inserting a very small fiber-optic camera and miniature surgical instruments through tiny incisions in the abdominal wall. Laparoscopic techniques reduce downtime, complications and often pain.

Obesity — A BMI of 30 or above qualifies as obese, an accumulation of fat that has a negative impact on health. Three classes further distinguish levels of obesity and health risk:

  • Class 1—BMIs of 30 to less than 35.
  • Class 2—BMIs of 35 to less than 40.
  • Class 3—BMIs of 40 and above, often known as severely, extremely or morbidly obese.

Overweight — A BMI of 25.0 to less than 30 qualifies a person as being overweight, or carrying excess weight. The more overweight you are, the greater the risk becomes for certain diseases and conditions like heart disease, diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems and certain cancers.

Sleep Apnea — Sleep apnea affects your breathing while you sleep. Frequent, repeated stops and starts—sometimes hundreds of times in one night—deprive the brain and the rest of your body of oxygen. Left untreated, the condition can result in high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, diabetes, depression and overall poor quality of life.

Supplements — When diet alone fails to deliver sufficient daily nutrients to maintain proper body function, additional substances, such as specially prepared food, drinks, herbs, vitamins or other compounds, deliver them instead.

Sweeteners and Sugars — One of the most deceptive and confusing aspects of nutrition centers on sweeteners and added sugars. Food labeling rarely says simply sugar. Instead, manufacturers use a host of caloric sugar, processed sugar alcohols and synthetic substances. Some terms to look for include:

  • Caloric sweeteners include sugar, honey, fruit juice concentrates, high fructose corn syrup, glucose syrup, dextrose, maltodextrin and trehalose. These are not simply fillers. They are caloric forms of sugar. Because it’s a natural substance, stevia is also considered in this category despite its low caloric content.
  • Sugar alcohols and polyols include sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, erythritol, d-tagatose, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, glycerol, polydextrose and HSH—hydrogenated starch hydrolysate. Despite offering roughly half the caloric content of sugar, many of these can cause gastrointestinal upsets, as only a portion of the sugar alcohol is digestible.
  • Artificial, zero-calorie sweeteners include saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame K, sucralose and neotame.

Being comfortable with weight loss terms allows patients make the best health decisions possible. If you would like to know more about weight loss surgery—or non-surgical weight loss options—call us at 337-233-9900, or visit our website today. Finding the right words is a vital step toward expressing yourself, and we’re here to help.