Imperial expert’s book uses scientific evidence to help people lose weight

News Category: Metabolic Medicine
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By Maxine Myers April 11, 2022

An Imperial researcher specialising in obesity has published a new book aiming to help people reach a healthy body weight.

Dr Saira Hameed, from the Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction at Imperial College London, who is also a Consultant in Endocrinology and Diabetes at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, created a landmark weight loss programme called the Imperial-Satiety Protocol (Imperial-SatPro) Weight Management Programme. Her new book, based on the programme, is called The Full Diet.

The scientifically based programme supports patients who are looking to achieve a healthy body weight. Patients learn about the science associated with weight loss, such as how hormones control appetite and body weight and how to apply this science to their diet and lifestyle.

Maxine Myers caught up with Dr Hameed to find out more.

Can you tell me about the Imperial-SatPro programme?

Imperial-SatPro is a weight loss programme we set up six years ago that is based on cutting-edge science at Imperial College London.

The programme helps patients understand the biology of their body, such as how the hunger hormone ghrelin affects appetite and how they can work in partnership with the biochemistry to achieve healthy weight loss. Patients are given advice about their body’s biochemistry and hormones and they then make the recommended adjustments to their diet and lifestyle.

This scientific approach sets Imperial-SatPro apart from many other weight loss plans.

Why did you set it up?

As a nation we have a weight problem.  One in four adults are living with obesity and one in three adults in the UK are overweight.  Lots of people are seeking solutions to this and we see many patients at the Imperial Weight Centre at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust who have tried different weight loss approaches which have not worked.

We urgently need effective lifestyle programmes that are firmly rooted in scientific evidence which will help people lose weight, improve their health and come off medications associated with being overweight or obese such as blood pressure pills.

How does the programme work?

Firstly, the patient has a medical consultation with us where we screen them and carry out health checks to see if they are suitable for the programme.  The patient then attends 15 sessions where they learn different topics such as the way your body responds to food, how your genes control your body weight, as well as mindset and behaviour change.  We also work with patients on recipes and learning to cook in a much more straightforward way using ingredients they understand.  We also look at factors that impact weight loss such as sleep exercise and mental health in a far more holistic way.

What evidence do you have about its benefits?

Our research paper found that patients on the programme lost on average 16.6kg (or 14% of their body weight) which is the equivalent to some patients who have had gastric band surgery.  Our patients also maintained this weight loss to the end of the one year research study. Some patients reversed their diabetes, normalised their blood pressure, came off tablets and returned their sleep apnoea equipment to their hospital.

The programme has been transformational and it is lovely to hear from patients who said they received a promotion or a new job as a result of their confidence growing.

Can you tell me about your book?

The book mirrors the sessions that patients on the Imperial-SatPro programme attend.  There are 14 chapters and an epilogue and each chapter is identical to the topics we teach on the programme.  For example, you will learn about the science of weight loss and then at the end of the chapter the reader is given a series of choices on how to implement these changes which they can decide how to use. I think it is important that patients are empowered to make decisions on their health.

I know there are lots of people out there who may feel frustrated with themselves when it comes to weight loss and questioning why they can’t stick to a rigid eating plan or why they can’t lose weight.  I want people who read the book to come away with an understanding that what they were doing before might not have been evidence based and so didn’t work for their body.  I hope they will move away from self-blame and being self-critical and put into practice some of the changes suggested in the book so they can get the outcomes they want.