What are the treatment options for Obesity?

A major review of the treatment options for obesity have been undertaken in Australia by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Some of the findings are shown below however these need to be read together with the full report published by the NHMRC (see reference below).

Expert opinion: There is no single effective treatment for long-term weight loss. Lifestyle changes underlie all currently effective treatments and should be emphasised.1

What are the surgical options for obesity?

There are three main types of weight loss (or bariatric) surgery conducted in Australia. These are:

  1. Gastric bypass
  2. Non-adjustable gastroplasty (sleeve gastrectomy)
  3. Adjustable gastric banding (the Lap-band® System)

Expert opinion: 

  • Surgery—mainly of the types that restrict the intake or absorption of food—is the most effective weight-loss treatment in severely obese patients1  
  • Surgically induced weight loss results in a marked reduction in some of the co-morbidities (other illnesses) associated with obesity (particularly diabetes) and an improvement in quality of life1  
  • Although it may appear expensive relative to other treatments obesity surgery is one of the most cost-effective treatments available.1

What are non-surgical options for obesity?

There are a few non-surgical options for weight loss. These are: 

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Diet and exercise, in combination
  • Behavioural therapy
  • Pharmacology (medications including phentermine, diethylpropion, orlistat and sibutramine)

Non-surgical options are only moderately effective for long term weight loss2. Refer to the table below for details about how effective they are:

  Weight loss Duration of follow-up
Diet and Lifestyle 5 kg 2-4 years
Drug therapy 5-10 kg 1-2 years
Surgery 25-75 kg 2-4 years

Do you want to know more about obesity treatment solutions?

If you want to read more about obesity, please visit other pages on this site, specifically:

Or contact us for more information about any questions you have. 


  1. NHMRC, Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Government, Canberra, 2003
  2. Douketis JD, et al, Systematic review of long-tern weight loss studies in obese adults: clinical significance and applicability to clinical practice. International Journal of Obesity 2005; 29:1153-67
© Dr Tony Patiniotis - Hobart Obesity Surgery Centre, Tasmania, Australia