Obesity is an epidemic in this country, with 60 percent of Americans fighting the battle of the bulge.
As The Early Show correspondent Dr. Debbye Turner reports one innovative doctor in New York says your extra weight is not your fault, and diet and exercise only scratch the surface in your fight against it.
Twelve years ago Michael Giehl's life fell apart. He lost his beloved wife.
"My life was perfect before, and I didn't realize how perfect it was. And when she passed, I realized how perfect it was," he says. "I was in deep depression from my wife's death, and probably in denial. I was — I was — I could never get past anger."
Giehl's anger lead to compulsive eating.
He says he reached a weight of 422 pounds, and his efforts to lose weight failed over and over.
"A diet would start every Monday and I would start a new diet come Monday afternoon, you know," he says. "So I would never stick to anything."
That all changed in 2003 when Giehl heard about a weight loss clinic called HealthBridge. The clinic's founder, Dr. David Edelson, said these life changing words: "Obesity is a serious, chronic, medical illness — it's not a matter of choice. People don't choose to become obese anymore than they would choose to become hypertensive or develop diabetes."
Giehl says, "Just that he recognized that put me right at ease."
Edelson put him on a nutrition and fitness plan, but Giehl was also diagnosed with depression, sleep apnea and a hormone deficiency. The integrative approach is the key to weight loss according to Edelson.
"What I need to do as a clinician, I have to break them apart like a puzzle, look at every little piece," he says.
All Edelson's patients get a full medical evaluation, which may include an echocardiogram, even psychoanalysis.
"Once we've done this very in-depth evaluation," the doctor says, "we put together what I call a health prescription."
That "prescription" is what makes Edelson's method different than the conventional method of just diet and exercise. He regularly recommends alternative treatments such as acupuncture.
"We also use it often for pain control, because so many people come in in pain," he says. "And until we get them out of pain, we can't get them exercising. If we can't get them exercising, we can't get them losing weight. It's all like a, you know, a big plate of dominoes."
Health Bridge also uses reiki, a Japanese relaxation technique, to reduce stress, a common cause of overeating. There is even a sleep disorder clinic.
"We find that sleeping disorders are very tightly associated with obesity," he says.
Turner who has waged her own battle with weight, took the bone density scan and body fat analysis. The results were not perfect but encouraging, nonetheless.
"You're an interesting case where you're probably not at your ideal weight, but a lot of that extra weight is probably muscle," Edelson says of Turner. "I just made your day."
With a comprehensive approach to losing weight there might be a brighter future in the battle of the bulge.
Copyright 2007 CBS. All rights reserved.