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Photos Cameron Flaisch - Left to Right: Dr. Amar Singh and Dr. Poonam Singh

Carrying extra weight can be a problem that not only drives self-confidence, but the health complications that arise can be far more detrimental to a person’s quality of life.

Most people who struggle with managing their weight have no idea that their body’s resistance to change may have little to do with their life choices. With years of research and mountains of data, healthcare professionals have found that there is a science to maintaining a healthy weight.

Since every human body presents its own challenges when fighting disease, it is safe to say that seeking the help of a physician can greatly increase the chances of finding a healthy path to weight loss goals.

Harbin Clinic, and their team of physicians, have seen the effects of being overweight when helping their patients formulate a wellness plan. Because having an unhealthy amount of fat inside the body often leads to other health concerns, Drs. Amar and Poonam Singh of Harbin Clinic Singh Internal Medicine have made it their mission to assist Northwest Georgians with weight management and educate their community about the factors that contribute to being overweight.

This husband-and-wife team says the science behind this nationwide epidemic may surprise those who are not in the know, and oftentimes it has nothing to do with occasionally having a burger.

Dr. Amar Singh and Dr. Poonam Singh have both recently earned their Obesity Medicine Board Certifications from the American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM). During the process to obtain certification, physicians undergo rigorous training in weight management and extensive examinations.

There are less than 100 ABOM diplomates practicing in Georgia. ABOM collaborates with the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) to administer the annual credentialing exam. Harbin Clinic is happy to have this service available to their patients, one that could possibly provide a better quality of life and prevent the onset of major health problems later on in life.

Dr. Amar Singh, according to the data collected about obesity, has some information to consider when assessing your weight loss plan.

"Our goal with this endeavor is to spend the next 20 years taking patients off of the medications we put them on by helping them to eliminate the cause of their health problems.”

“Obesity is a chronic disease,” he explains. “It has received this designation by the American Medical Association in 2013. Now, obesity is in the same category as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and high cholesterol. So, we have to treat obesity with the same respect. It is a chronic disease in itself.”

Dr. Amar Singh goes on to say that about two thirds of our population is either overweight or suffers from obesity. After 20 years of practicing internal medicine, he and his wife finally understand that they have been treating the problems created by obesity, and they have not properly addressed the root cause of many illnesses their patients suffer from.

“Our goal with this endeavor is to spend the next 20 years taking patients off of the medications we put them on by helping them to eliminate the cause of their health problems,” Dr. Amar Singh says. “We do not just want to address the numbers for our patients, like what their blood pressure is, but we also want to address how they feel. We want to help them to improve their self-esteem, their self-respect and we want them to have the ability to do things they want to do, but are not able to do right now.”

Those people who may want to consider seeking the help of Drs. Amar and Poonam Singh are not just those who suffer from severe obesity. Part of controlling the effects of any disease is early detection and there are a few warning signs of excess weight causing harm to the body.

“Obesity is an insidious disease. Sometimes life just happens, and we get very busy in the productive years of life,” Dr. Amar Singh explains. “So, people don’t realize that symptoms like fatigue, lack of focus, difficulty sleeping and not being able to participate in physical activity can be early warning signs that you are overweight. With jobs, families and homes to care for, we sometimes don’t play close attention to our health and how we feel. We eat things that are convenient and we don’t get the proper amount of sleep. All of these factors can contribute to having bigger health concerns down the road.

“We also want to help people who have a family history or certain risk factors that are associated with becoming overweight. They should start at the primary prevention level and we can provide them with the tools they need to succeed in their weight loss journey. We want to stop them from getting to point of weight becoming a health problem,” Dr. Amar Singh explains. “It is also important to note that any plan we prescribe is done so in conjunction with the patient’s primary care physician.

“Thinking that we can just eat less and exercise more is an overused, antiquated concept that blames an individual for developing the disease of obesity,” he adds. “Current science tells us that obesity is 40 to 70 percent caused by genetic factors outside of an individual’s control. 85 to 90 percent of people who take the ‘eat less and move more’ approach quickly regain any lost weight – not due to lack of willpower – but due to body’s ability to protect itself.”

Left to Right: Dr. Poonam Singh and Dr. Amar Singh

This data is why many people they see in their office have been fighting a losing battle with their weight, and they do not know how to combat this problem. However, they can achieve success with the help of science and the care of a knowledgeable physician. “Regardless of whether a person is obese or not, when the body loses weight it fights to regain any lost pounds through both hormonal and metabolic mechanisms.” he says. “The human body is very efficient and works hard to provide weight regulation. After weight loss, the body doesn’t accept the new lower weight as normal. It doesn’t reset the weight set point. It doesn’t restore metabolism.”

This is why the disease of obesity should be treated by medical professionals, using an individualized approach of evidence-based treatment options shown to be helpful in the long-term plans of patients.

The main thing both Drs. Amar and Poonam Singh want potential patients to know is that the time to take control of your health is now. Because there are so many complications from being overweight, many of us are feeling bad from the extra pounds. It all becomes real to many of their patients when they show them the model of five pounds of fat. The gelatinous model, lumpy and yellow, hits the table in front of them with a loud thud. And when they take it in their hands, they feel the burden of carrying just five pounds of extra tissue.

If these are issues you are facing, you need only to ask for a referral to Harbin Clinic’s Singh Internal Medicine. Since they work closely with your primary care physician in creating a plan for you, it is important that all of your medical history taken into consideration when forming your plan to a healthier life free of the extra baggage that comes with being overweight.

“Every person’s weight loss journey is unique to that individual,” says Dr. Amar Singh. “What works for weight loss will not work for weight maintenance. Each person with the disease of obesity should be treated with the same compassion and respect, like we treat others with chronic illnesses. It is time for a new conversation about the way society thinks about obesity. It is time for a new paradigm. Only then will the obesity epidemic improve.

“Our mission is to inspire and empower patients to lose weight while taking charge of their health habits. We propose gentler, moderate changes because we believe weight loss and maintenance is not a punitive process,” Dr. Amar Singh continues. “Eating food is one of the basic human pleasures. If a restrictive diet causes suffering, it is not going to endure. Desiring certain foods does not mean you lack willpower. It is just a sign of the human condition. Weight loss and maintenance is a restorative process, which should be affirming and encouraging. The American Heart Association and other medical groups have determined that a modest weight-loss, as little as three to five percent, can lead to clinically meaningful improvements in glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as mood and energy level. There is not one right way for everybody. Our team will focus on achieving the best weight for each individual, which is whatever weight a person reaches when they are living the healthiest life they honestly enjoy. In our experience, when you let go of the numbers, people tend to take more pride in their efforts, and that helps them stick with the plan.”

So, are you ready keep up with your children or grandchildren, go on vacation and keep up with the walking or biking tour, pursue fun activities like tennis or dancing, take the stairs without getting short of breath, or be around longer for your significant other and check off your bucket list together?

Harbin Clinic and Drs. Amar and Poonam Singh are ready to empower their patients so that they can live the life they want to live. They hope to bring more joy and contentment – not just a smaller waist.

Isn’t that what life is all about? Enjoy your health!