Weight Loss Glossary
Check our weight loss glossary for answers to common questions, including definitions of obesity and gastric bypass surgery

Abdomen: The belly, that part of the body that contains all of the structures between the chest and the pelvis. The abdomen is separated anatomically from the chest by the diaphragm, the powerful muscle spanning the body cavity below the lungs.

Abdominal: Relating to the abdomen, the belly, that part of the body that contains all of the structures between the chest and the pelvis. The abdomen is separated anatomically from the chest by the diaphragm, the powerful muscle spanning the body cavity below the lungs.

Adipose tissue (add-ih-POS-e) Fat tissue in the body.

Addiction: A chronic relapsing condition characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and abuse and by long-lasting chemical changes in the brain. Addiction is the same irrespective of whether the drug is alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, or nicotine. Every addictive substance induces pleasant states or relieves distress.

Anesthesia: Loss of feeling or awareness. A general anesthetic puts the person to sleep. A local anesthetic causes loss of feeling in a part of the body such as a tooth or an area of skin without affecting consciousness. Regional anesthesia numbs a larger part of the body such as a leg or arm, also without affecting consciousness. The term "conduction anesthesia" encompasses both local and regional anesthetic techniques. Many surgical procedures can be done with conduction anesthesia without significant pain. In many situations, such as a C-section, conduction anesthesia is safer and therefore preferable to general anesthesia. However, there are also many types of surgery in which general anesthesia is clearly appropriate.

Artery: A vessel that carries blood high in oxygen content away from the heart to the farthest reaches of the body. Since blood in arteries is usually full of oxygen, the hemoglobin in the red blood cells is oxygenated. The resultant form of hemoglobin (oxyhemoglobin) is what makes arterial blood look bright red.

Aspartame: A man-made sweetener with almost no calories used in place of sugar.

Atkins Diet: A high- protein, high- fat, low- carbohydrate weight-loss diet popularized by Dr. Robert C. Atkins that allows for unrestricted amounts of meat, cheese and eggs while severely restricting carbohydrates, including sugar, bread, pasta, milk, fruits and vegetables. The Atkins diet is based on the theory that eating carbohydrates stimulates the production of insulin, which in turn leads to hunger, eating, and weight gain. The theory is that people on the Atkins diet experience reduced appetite and their bodies use stored fat for energy versus burning glucose from ingested carbohydrate. Burning fat for energy is supposedly lead to weight loss.

Bariatric: Pertaining to weight (from the same root as in barometer — measuring the “weight” of air) Bariatric surgery (such as gastric bypass) may be performed by bariatric surgeons. Bariatric physicians are usually internists who specialize in non-surgical weight management.

Bariatric surgery (bear-ee-AT-ric) Surgery on the stomach and/or intestines to help the patient with extreme obesity lose weight. Bariatric surgery is a weight-loss method used for people who have a body mass index (BMI) above 40. Surgery may also be an option for people with a BMI between 35 and 40 who have health problems like heart disease or type 2 diabetes. This term typically refers to newer set of procedures that have replaced the procedure of gastric bypass.

Baseline: For the purposes of this weight loss glossary: 1. Information gathered at the beginning of a study from which variations found in the study are measured.  2. A known value or quantity with which an unknown is compared when measured or assessed. 3. The initial time point in a clinical trial, just before a participant starts to receive the experimental treatment which is being tested. At this reference point, measurable values such as CD4 count are recorded. Safety and efficacy of a drug are often determined by monitoring changes from the baseline values.

Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) (im -PEE-dance) A way to estimate the amount of body weight that is fat and nonfat. Nonfat weight comes from bone, muscle, body water, organs, and other body tissues. BIA works by measuring how difficult it is for a harmless electrical current to move through the body. The more fat a person has, the harder it is for electricity to flow through the body. The less fat a person has, the easier it is for electricity to flow through the body. By measuring the flow of electricity, one can estimate body fat percent, and thus define obesity.

Blood: The familiar red fluid in the body that contains white and red blood cells, platelets, proteins, and other elements. The blood is transported throughout the body by the circulatory system. Blood functions in two directions: arterial and venous. Arterial blood is the means by which oxygen and nutrients are transported to tissues while venous blood is the means by which carbon dioxide and metabolic by-products are transported to the lungs and kidneys, respectively, for removal from the body.

Blood Glucose: The main sugar that the body makes from the food in the diet. Glucose is carried through the bloodstream to provide energy to all cells in the body. Cells cannot use glucose without the help of insulin.

Blood Pressure: The blood pressure is the pressure of the blood within the arteries. It is produced primarily by the contraction of the heart muscle. Its measurement is recorded by two numbers. The first (systolic pressure) is measured after the heart contracts and is highest. The second (diastolic pressure) is measured before the heart contracts and lowest. A blood pressure cuff is used to measure the pressure. Elevation of blood pressure is called "hypertension."

Blood Sugar: Blood glucose.

BMI: (Body mass index): A method for determining the lean body mass. The BOD POD is a computerized, egg-shaped chamber. Using the same whole-body measurement principle as underwater weighing, the BOD POD measures a subject's mass and volume, from which their whole-body density is determined. Using these data, body fat and lean muscle mass can then be calculated. One of the anthropometric measures of body mass. A formula for standardizing the extent of overweight.

A body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 up to 25 refers to a healthy weight, a BMI of 25 up to 30 refers to overweight and a BMI of 30 or higher refers to obese.

Bowel: Another name for the intestine. The small bowel and the large bowel are the small intestine and large intestine, respectively.

Gastric Bypass: An operation in which a surgeon creates a new tubular pathway for the movement of fluids and/or other substances in the body.

Calipers: A metal or plastic tool similar to a compass used to measure the diameter of an object. The skin fold thickness in several parts of the body can be measured with skin calipers to determine the lean body mass. This may be done in medicine, physical anthropology, health clubs, and athletic facilities.

Calorie: A unit of food energy. In nutrition terms, the word calorie is used instead of the more precise scientific term kilocalorie which represents the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of a liter of water one degree centigrade at sea level. The common usage of the word calorie of food energy is understood to refer to a kilocalorie and actually represents, therefore, 1000 true calories of energy. A calorie is also known as cal, gram calorie, or small calorie.

Cancer: An abnormal growth of cells which tend to proliferate in an uncontrolled way and, in some cases, to metastasize (spread).

Capsule: Capsule has many meanings in medicine including the following: In medicine, a membranous structure that envelops an organ, a joint, tumor, or any other part of the body. It is usually made up of dense collagen-containing connective tissue. In pharmacy, a solid dosage form in which the drug is enclosed in a hard or soft soluble container, usually of a form of gelatin. In microbiology, a coat around a microbe, such as a bacterium or fungus.

Carbohydrates: Mainly sugars and starches, together constituting one of the three principal types of nutrients used as energy sources (calories) by the body. Carbohydrates can also be defined chemically as neutral compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.

Cholesterol: The most common type of steroid in the body, cholesterol has gotten something of a bad name. However, cholesterol is a critically important molecule.

Chronic: This important term in medicine comes from the Greek chronos, time and means lasting a long time. For the purposes of this weigh loss glossary, it is often used as in chronic obesity or chronic diabetes, for example.

Clinically Severe Obesity: The newer term for morbid obesity.

Clinical Trials: Trials to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of medications or medical devices by monitoring their effects on large groups of people.

Colon: The part of the large intestine that runs from the cecum to the rectum as a long hollow tube that serves to remove water from digested food and let the remaining material, solid waste called stool , move through it to the rectum and leave the body through the anus.

Condition: The term "condition" has a number of biomedical meanings including the following for the purposes of this weight loss glossary: An unhealthy state, such as in "this is a progressive condition." A state of fitness, such as "getting into condition." Something that is essential to the occurrence of something else; essentially a "precondition." As a verb: to cause a change in something so that a response that was previously associated with a certain stimulus becomes associated with another stimulus; to condition a person, as in behavioral conditioning.

Dexfenfluramine: A weight loss drug, in a class of drugs called anorectics which decrease appetite. This drug, sold in the US under the brand name Redux, was withdrawn from the US market in 1997, and has since been withdrawn worldwide and is no longer available because of its association with abnormal heart valve findings, primarily aortic regurgitation.

Diabetes: Refers to diabetes mellitus or, less often, to diabetes insipidus. Diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus share the name "diabetes" because they are both conditions characterized by excessive urination (polypro).

  • Type 1 diabetes (dye-uh-BEET-eez)Previously known as “insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus,” (IDDM) or “juvenile diabetes.” Type 1 diabetes is a life-long condition in which the pancreas stops making insulin. Without insulin, the body is not able to use glucose (blood sugar) for energy. To treat the disease, a person must inject insulin, follow a diet plan, exercise daily, and test blood sugar several times a day. Type 1 diabetes usually begins before the age of 30.
  • Type 2 diabetes (dye-uh-BEET-eez)Previously known as “noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus” (NIDDM) or “adult-onset diabetes.” Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes mellitus. About 90 to 95 percent of people who have diabetes have type 2 diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes produce insulin, but either do not make enough insulin or their bodies do not use the insulin they make. Most of the people who have this type of diabetes are overweight. Therefore, people with type 2 diabetes may be able to control their condition by losing weight through diet and exercise. They may also need to inject insulin or take medicine along with continuing to follow a healthy program of diet and exercise. Although type 2 diabetes commonly occurs in adults, an increasing number of children and adolescents who are overweight are also developing type 2 diabetes.

Diarrhea: A familiar phenomenon with unusually frequent or unusually liquid bowel movements, excessive watery evacuations of fecal material. The opposite of constipation. The word "diarrhea" with its odd spelling is a near steal from the Greek "diarrhea" meaning "a flowing through." Plato and Aristotle may have had diarrhea while today we have diarrhea. There are myriad infectious and noninfectious causes of diarrhea.

Diet: What a person eats and drinks. For the purposes of this weight loss glossary, any type of eating plan.

Disease: Illness or sickness often characterized by typical patient problems (symptoms) and physical findings (signs).

Disruption sequence: The events that occur when a fetus that is developing normally is subjected to a destructive agent such as the rubella (German measles) virus.

Dumping Syndrome: Whereby stomach contents move too rapidly through the small intestine. Symptoms include nausea, weakness, sweating, faintness, and, occasionally, diarrhea after eating, as well as the inability to eat sweets without becoming so weak and sweaty that the patient may have to lie down until the symptoms pass.

Energy expenditure: For the purposes of this weight loss glossary, the amount of energy, measured in calories, that a person uses. Calories are used by people to breath, circulate blood, digest food, and be physically active.

Epidemic: The occurrence of more cases of a disease than would be expected in a community or region during a given time period. A sudden severe outbreak of a disease such as SARS. From the Greek "epi-", "upon" + "demos", "people or population" = "epidemos" = "upon the population."

Esophagus: The tube that connects the pharynx (throat) with the stomach. The esophagus lies between the trachea (windpipe) and the spine. It passes down the neck, pierces the diaphragm just to the left of the midline, and joins the cardiac (upper) end of the stomach.

Essential: 1. something that cannot be done without. 2. For the purposes of this weight loss glossary, required in the diet, because the body cannot make it. As in an essential amino acid or an essential fatty acid. 3. Idiopathic. As in essential hypertension. "Essential" is a hallowed term meaning "We don't know the cause."

Estrogen: Estrogen is a female hormone produced by the ovaries. Estrogen deficiency can lead to osteoporosis.

Extensive Gastric Bypass (biliopancreatic diversion): In this more complicated gastric bypass operation, portions of the stomach are removed. The small pouch that remains is connected directly to the final segment of the small intestine, thus completely bypassing both the duodenum and jejunum. Although this gastric bypass procedure successfully promotes weight loss, it is not widely used because of the high risk for nutritional deficiencies.

Fat: 1 Along with proteins and carbohydrates, one of the three nutrients used as energy sources by the body. The energy produced by fats is 9 calories per gram. Proteins and carbohydrates each provide 4 calories per gram. 2 Total fats; the sum of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Intake of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help reduce blood cholesterol when substituted for saturated fats in the diet. 3 A slang term for obese or adipose. 4 In chemistry, a compound formed from chemicals called fatty acids. These fats are greasy, solid materials found in animal tissues and in some plants. Fats are the major component of the flabby material of a body, commonly known as blubber.

Fatigue: A condition characterized by a lessened capacity for work and reduced efficiency of accomplishment, usually accompanied by a feeling of weariness and tiredness. Fatigue can be acute and come on suddenly or chronic and persist.

Fats: Plural of the word "fat". See the definition of fat.

Fatty Acids: Molecules that are long chains of lipid-carboxylic acid found in fats and oils and in cell membranes as a component of phospholipids and glycolipids. (Carboxylic acid is an organic acid containing the functional group -COOH.)

FDA: The Food and Drug Administration, an agency within the U.S. Public Health Service, which is a part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Fenfluramine: A weight loss drug, in a class of drugs called anorectics which decrease appetite. This drug, sold in the US under the brand name Pondimin, was withdrawn from the US market in 1997, and has since been withdrawn worldwide and is no longer available because of its association with abnormal heart valve findings, primarily aortic regurgitation.

Gallbladder: A pear-shaped organ just below the liver that stores the bile secreted by the liver. During a fatty meal, the gallbladder contracts, delivering the bile through the bile ducts into the intestines to help with digestion. Abnormal composition of bile leads to formation of gallstones, a process termed cholelithiasis. The gallstones cause cholecystitis, inflammation of the gallbladder.

Gastric: Having to do with the stomach, as in gastric bypass surgery.

Gastric Banding: In this procedure, a band made of special material is placed around the stomach near its upper end, creating a small pouch and a narrow passage into the larger remainder of the stomach. Has effectively replaced gastric bypass surgery as a healthier surgical option.

Gastrointestinal: Adjective referring collectively to the stomach and small and large intestines.

Gestational diabetes (jest-AY-shun-ul) (dye-ah-BEE-teez): A type of diabetes mellitus that can occur when a woman is pregnant. In the second half of her pregnancy, a woman may have glucose (sugar) in her blood at a higher than normal level. In about 95 percent of cases, blood sugar returns to normal after the pregnancy is over. Women who develop gestational diabetes, however, are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Gastrointestinal Tract: The tube that extends from the mouth to the anus in which the movement of muscles and release of hormones and enzymes digest food. The gastrointestinal tract starts with the mouth and proceeds to the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, small intestine, large intestine (colon), rectum and, finally, the anus. Also called the alimentary canal, digestive tract and, perhaps most often in conversation, the GI tract.

Genes: The basic biological units of heredity. Segments of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) needed to contribute to a function.

Genetic: Having to do with genes and genetic information.

Genetic Disease: A disease caused by an abnormality in an individual's genome.

Glucose: The simple sugar (monosaccharide) that serves as the chief source of energy in the body. Glucose is the principal sugar the body makes. The body makes glucose from proteins, fats and, in largest part, carbohydrates. Glucose is carried to each cell through the bloodstream. Cells, however, cannot use glucose without the help of insulin. Glucose is also known as dextrose.

HDL Cholesterol: Lipoproteins, which are combinations of lipids (fats) and proteins, are the form in which lipids are transported in the blood. The high-density lipoproteins transport cholesterol from the tissues of the body to the liver so it can be gotten rid of (in the bile). HDL cholesterol is therefore considered the "good" cholesterol. The higher the HDL cholesterol level, the lower the risk of coronary artery disease.

Health: As officially defined by the World Health Organization, a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Healthy weight: For the purposes of this weight loss glossary, compared to overweight or obese, a body weight that is less likely to be linked with any weight-related health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or others. A body mass index (BMI) of 18.5 up to 25 refers to a healthy weight, though not all individuals with a BMI in this range may be at a healthy level of body fat; they may have more body fat tissue and less muscle. A BMI of 25 up to 30 refers to overweight and a BMI of 30 or higher refers to obese.

Heart: The muscle that pumps blood received from veins into arteries throughout the body. It is positioned in the chest behind the sternum (breastbone; in front of the trachea, esophagus, and aorta; and above the diaphragm muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities. The normal heart is about the size of a closed fist, and weighs about 10.5 ounces. It is cone-shaped, with the point of the cone pointing down to the left. Two-thirds of the heart lies in the left side of the chest with the balance in the right chest.

Heart Disease: Any disorder that affects the heart. Sometimes the term "heart disease" is used narrowly and incorrectly as a synonym for coronary artery disease. Heart disease is synonymous with cardiac disease but not with cardiovascular disease which is any disease of the heart or blood vessels.

Hemorrhagic: Pertaining to bleeding or the abnormal flow of blood.

Herbal: 1. an adjective, referring to herbs, as in an herbal tea. 2. A noun, usually reflecting the botanical or medicinal aspects of herbs; also a book which catalogs and illustrates herbs. The word "herbal" was pronounced with a silent "h" on both sides of the Atlantic until the 19th century but this usage persists only on the American side.

Hernia: The protrusion of a loop of an organ or tissue through a weakened opening. Ten to 20 percent of patients who have weight-loss surgery develop a hernia.

High Blood Pressure: Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure is, by definition, a repeatedly elevated blood pressure exceeding 140 over 90 mmHg -- a systolic pressure above 140 with a diastolic pressure above 90.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) (lip-o-PRO-teen)A form of cholesterol that circulates in the blood. Commonly called “good” cholesterol. High HDL lowers the risk of heart disease. An HDL of 60 mg/dl or greater is considered high and is protective against heart disease. An HDL less than 40 mg/dl is considered low and increases the risk for developing heart disease.

Hydrogenation (high-dro-jen-AY-shun)A chemical way to turn liquid fat (oil) into solid fat. This process creates a new fat called trans fatty acids. Trans fatty acids are found in margarine, shortening, and some commercial baked foods like cookies, crackers, muffins, and cereals. Eating a large amount of trans fatty acids may raise heart disease risk.

Hypertension: High blood pressure, defined as a repeatedly elevated blood pressure exceeding 140 over 90 mmHg -- a systolic pressure above 140 with a diastolic pressure above 90.

Incidence: The frequency with which something, such as a disease, appears in a particular population or area. In disease epidemiology, the incidence is the number of newly diagnosed cases during a specific time period. The incidence is distinct from the prevalence which refers to the number of cases alive on a certain date.

Insulin: A natural hormone made by the pancreas that controls the level of the sugar glucose in the blood. Insulin permits cells to use glucose for energy. Cells cannot utilize glucose without insulin.

Insulin Resistance: The diminished ability of cells to respond to the action of insulin in transporting glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into muscle and other tissues. Insulin resistance typically develops with obesity and heralds the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Iron: An essential mineral. Iron is necessary for the transport of oxygen (via hemoglobin in red blood cells) and for oxidation by cells (via cytochrome). Deficiency of iron is a common cause of anemia. Food sources of iron include meat, poultry, eggs, vegetables and cereals (especially those fortified with iron).

Kidney: One of a pair of organs located in the right and left side of the abdomen which clear "poisons" from the blood, regulate acid concentration and maintain water balance in the body by excreting urine. The kidneys are part of the urinary tract. The urine then passes through connecting tubes called "ureters" into the bladder. The bladder stores the urine until it is released during urination

Laparoscopic: Abbreviated “Lap.” Operation performed using a laparoscope, a thin fiber-optic scope introduced into a body cavity through 4 or 5 small stab wounds.

Lean Body Mass: The mass of the body minus the fat (storage lipid).

Leptin: A hormone that has a central role in fat metabolism. Leptin was originally thought to be a signal to lose weight but it may, instead, be a signal to the brain that there is fat on the body.

Lipoprotein (lip-o-PRO-teen)Compounds of protein that carry fats and fat-like substances, such as cholesterol, in the blood.

Liver: An organ in the upper abdomen that aids in digestion and removes waste products and worn-out cells from the blood. The liver is the largest solid organ in the body. The liver weighs about three and a half pounds (1.6 kilograms). It measures about 8 inches (20 cm) horizontally (across) and 6.5 inches (17 cm) vertically (down) and is 4.5 inches (12 cm) thick.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) (lip-o-PRO-teen)A form of choleste M

Malabsorption: Impaired intestinal absorption of nutrients, causing food to be poorly digested and absorbed. Often happens as a result of gastric bypass surgery.

Medication: For the purposes of this weight loss glossary, 1. a drug or medicine. 2. The administration of a drug or medicine. (Note that "medication" does not have the dangerous double meaning of "drug.")

Metabolic: Relating to metabolism, the whole range of biochemical processes that occur within us (or any living organism). Metabolism consists of anabolism (the buildup of substances) and catabolism (the breakdown of substances).

Metabolism: The whole range of biochemical processes that occur within us (or any living organism). Metabolism consists both of anabolism and catabolism (the buildup and breakdown of substances, respectively). The term is commonly used to refer specifically to the breakdown of food and its transformation into energy.

Monounsaturated fat (mono-un-SATCH-er-ay-ted)Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fat is found in canola oil, olives and olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Eating food that has more monounsaturated fat instead of saturated fat may help lower cholesterol and reduce heart disease risk. However, it has the same number of calories as other types of fat, and may still contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess.

Morbid Obesity: Severe obesity in which a person's BMI is over 40. This definition of obesity is generally equivalent to having 100 or more pounds to lose.

Muscle: Muscle is the tissue of the body which primarily functions as a source of power. There are three types of muscle in the body. Muscle which is responsible for moving extremities and external areas of the body is called "skeletal muscle." Heart muscle is called "cardiac muscle." Muscle that is in the walls of arteries and bowel is called "smooth muscle."

Muscular: Having to do with the muscles. Also, endowed with above average muscle development. Muscular system refers to all of the muscles of the body collectively.

Nerve: A bundle of fibers that uses chemical and electrical signals to transmit sensory and motor information from one body part to another.

Nutrition: For the purposes of this weight loss glossary, 1) The science or practice of taking in and utilizing foods. 2) A nourishing substance, such as nutritional solutions delivered to hospitalized patients via an IV or IG tube.

Obese: Well above ones normal weight. A definition of obesity means a person is more than 20 percent over their ideal weight, or a BMI over 30. That ideal weight must take into account the person's height, age, sex, and build.

Obesity: The state of being well above one's normal weight. Current definitions of obesity refer to a BMI over 30.

Onset: In medicine, the first appearance of the signs or symptoms of an illness as, for example, the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. There is always an onset to a disease but never to the return to good health. The default setting is good health.

Open: For the purposes of this weight loss glossary, making an incision to do the operation; opening the abdomen.

Osteoporosis: Thinning of the bones with reduction in bone mass due to depletion of calcium and bone protein. Osteoporosis predisposes a person to fractures, which are often slow to heal and heal poorly. It is more common in older adults, particularly post-menopausal women; in patients on steroids; and in those who take steroidal drugs. Unchecked osteoporosis can lead to changes in posture, physical abnormality (particularly the form of hunched back known colloquially as "dowager's hump"), and decreased mobility.

Overweight: The term "overweight" is used in two different ways. In one sense it is a way of saying imprecisely that someone is heavy. The other sense of "overweight" is more precise and designates a state between normal weight and obesity.

Pain: An unpleasant sensation that can range from mild, localized discomfort to agony. Pain has both physical and emotional components. The physical part of pain results from nerve stimulation. Pain may be contained to a discrete area, as in an injury, or it can be more diffuse, as in disorders like fibromyalgia. Pain is mediated by specific nerve fibers that carry the pain impulses to the brain where their conscious appreciation may be modified by many factors.

Pancreas: A fish-shaped spongy grayish-pink organ about 6 inches (15 cm) long that stretches across the back of the abdomen, behind the stomach. The head of the pancreas is on the right side of the abdomen and is connected to the duodenum (the first section of the small intestine). The narrow end of the pancreas, called the tail, extends to the left side of the body.

Panniculectomy: The removal of the tissue and skin from the abdomen; a tummy tuck. (Never use the term “tummy tuck” when communicating with an insurance company. They like to deny this surgery!).

Physical activity: Any form of exercise or movement. Physical activity may include planned activity such as walking, running, basketball, or other sports. Physical activity may also include other daily activities such as household chores, yard work, walking the dog, etc. It is recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes and children get at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. Moderate physical activity is any activity that requires about as much energy as walking two miles in 30 minutes.

Placebo: For the purposes of this weight loss glossary, a "sugar pill" or any dummy medication or treatment.

Periop: Surrounding surgery (Peri=“around”, as in periscope [“around-looking”]). The time/events before, during and after surgery.

Polyunsaturated fat (poly-un-SATCH-er-ay-ted)A highly unsaturated fat that is liquid at room temperature. Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fats are found in greatest amounts in corn, soybean, and safflower oils, and many types of nuts. They have the same number of calories as other types of fat, and may still contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess.

Postmenopausal: After the menopause. Postmenopausal is defined formally as the time after which a woman has experienced twelve (12) consecutive months of amenorrhea (lack of menstruation) without a period.

Potassium: The major positive ion (cation) found inside of cells. The chemical notation for potassium is K+.

Pouch: The new small stomach created during most bariatric surgeries, such as gastric bypass.

Pound: A measure of weight equal to 16 ounces or, metrically, 453.6 grams. The word "pound" goes back to the Latin "pondo" which meant a "weight" (but one of only 12 ounces). The abbreviation for pound-just to confuse non-pound people-is lb. which stands for "libra" (Latin for pound).

Preop: Before surgery (Pre Operation). For the purposes of this weight loss glossary, the time/events prior to weight loss surgery.

Postop: After surgery (Post Operation). For the purposes of this weight loss glossary, the time/events after weight loss surgery.

Protein: A large molecule composed of one or more Postop: After surgery (Post Operation).The time/events after surgery.

Pulmonary: Having to do with the lungs. (The word comes from the Latin pulmo for lung).

Pulmonary Hypertension: High blood pressure in the pulmonary artery that conveys blood from the right ventricle to the lungs. The pressure in the pulmonary artery is normally low compared to that in the aorta. Pulmonary hypertension can irrevocably damage the lungs and cause failure of the right ventricle.

Randomized: The use of chance alone to assign the participants in an experiment or trial to different groups in order to fairly compare the outcomes with different treatments. Randomization is an important feature of experimental design.

Range: In medicine and statistics, the difference between the lowest and highest numerical values. For example, if five premature infants are born weighing two, three, four, four, and five pounds respectively, the range of their birth weights is two to five pounds.

Rectum: The last 6 to 8 inches of the large intestine. The rectum stores solid waste until it leaves the body through the anus. The word rectum comes from the Latin rectus meaning straight (which the human rectum is not).

Registered Dietitian (R.D.)A health professional who is a food and nutrition expert. A person who has studied diet and nutrition at an American Dietetic Association (ADA) approved college program and passed an exam to become a registered dietitian.

Relapse: The return of signs and symptoms of a disease after a patient has enjoyed a remission. For example, after treatment a patient with cancer of the colon went into remission with no sign or symptom of the tumor, remained in remission for 4 years, but then suffered a relapse and had to be treated once again for colon cancer.

Resistance: Opposition to something, or the ability to withstand it. For example, some forms of staphylococcus are resistant to treatment with antibiotics.

Restriction Operation (weight-loss surgery): Restriction operations are the surgeries most often used for producing weight loss. Food intake is restricted by creating a small pouch at the top of the stomach where the food enters from the esophagus. The pouch initially holds about 1 ounce of food and expands to 2-3 ounces with time. The pouch's lower outlet has a small opening. The small outlet delays the emptying of food from the pouch and causes a feeling of fullness. Restriction operations for obesity include gastric banding and vertical banded gastroplasty. Both operations serve only to restrict food intake. They do not interfere with the normal digestive process.

Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RGB): This operation is the most common gastric bypass procedure. First, a small stomach pouch is created by stapling or by vertical banding. This gastric bypass procedure causes restriction in food intake. Next, a Y-shaped section of the small intestine is attached to the pouch to allow food to bypass the duodenum (the first segment of the small intestine) as well as the first portion of the jejunum (the second segment of the small intestine). This gastric bypass procedure ccauses reduced calorie and nutrient absorption the procedure is more extensive than the VBG (below). Some people prefer it because of a sick feeling that results (called “dumping”) when post op patients overeat. This can be a powerful feedback/learning mechanism whereby people lose their interest — at a “gut instinct” level — in eating excessive carbohydrates.

Saccharin: An artificial sweetener which diluted in water is 300-500 times sweeter than the sugar sucrose. (Saccharin is o-sulfobenzimide; 2,3-dihydro-3-oxobenzisosulfonazole.)

Salt: In medicine, salt usually refers to sodium chloride, table salt, used for seasoning food, for the preservation of meat, etc. Salt is found in the earth and in sea water and is isolated by evaporation and crystallization from sea water and other water impregnated with particles of salt.

Saturated fat (SATCH-er-ay-ted)A fat that is solid at room temperature. Fats that are in foods are combinations of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fatty acids. Saturated fat is found in high-fat dairy products (like cheese, whole milk, cream, butter, and regular ice cream), fatty fresh and processed meats, the skin and fat of chicken and turkey, lard, palm oil, and coconut oil. They have the same number of calories as other types of fat, and may contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess. Eating a diet high in saturated fat also raises blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease.

Sensation: In medicine and physiology, sensation refers to the registration of an incoming (afferent) nerve impulse in that part of the brain called the sensorial, which is capable of such perception. Therefore, the awareness of a stimulus as a result of its perception by sensory receptors. (Sensory is here synonymous with sensation.)

Sensitivity: 1. in psychology, the quality of being sensitive. As, for example, sensitivity training, training in small groups to develop a sensitive awareness and understanding of oneself and of ones relationships with others. 2. in disease epidemiology, the ability of a system to detect epidemics and other changes in disease occurrence. 3. In screening for a disease, the proportion of persons with the disease who are correctly identified by a screening test. 4. In the definition of a disease, the proportion of persons with the disease who are correctly identified by defined criteria.

Serotonin: A hormone, also called 5-hydroxytryptamine, in the pineal gland, blood platelets, the digestive tract, and the brain. Serotonin acts both as a chemical messenger that transmits nerve signals between nerve cells and that causes blood vessels to narrow.

Shock: In medicine, shock is a critical condition brought on by a sudden drop in blood flow through the body. There is failure of the circulatory system to maintain adequate blood flow.

Side Effects: Problems that occur when treatment goes beyond the desired effect. Or problems that occur in addition to the desired therapeutic effect.

Skin: The skin is the body's outer covering. It protects us against heat and light, injury, and infection. It regulates body temperature and stores water, fat, and vitamin D. weighing about 6 pounds, the skin is the body's largest organ. It is made up of two main layers; the outer epidermis and the inner dermis.

Sleep: The body's rest cycle.

Small Bowel: Another name for the small intestine.

Sodium: The major positive ion (cation) in fluid outside of cells. The chemical notation for sodium is Na+. When combined with chloride, the resulting substance is table salt.

Stomach: 1. the sac-shaped digestive organ that is located in the upper abdomen, under the ribs. The upper part of the stomach connects to the esophagus, and the lower part leads into the small intestine.

Strain: 1. an injury to a tendon or muscle resulting from overuse or trauma. 2. A hereditary tendency that originated from a common ancestor. 3. To exert maximum effort. 4. To filter.

Superior: In anatomy, above or over top of. As opposed to inferior. The heart is superior to the stomach. The superior surface of the tongue rests against the palate.

Surgery: The word "surgery" has multiple meanings. It is the branch of medicine concerned with diseases and conditions which require or are amenable to operative procedures. Surgery is the work done by a surgeon. By analogy, the work of an editor wielding his pen as a scalpel is s form of surgery. A surgery in England (and some other countries) is a physician's or dentist's office.

Syndrome: A set of signs and symptoms that tend to occur together and which reflect the presence of a particular disease or an increased chance of developing a particular disease.

Synthesis: Putting together different entities to make a whole which is new and different. In biochemistry, synthesis refers specifically to the process of building compounds from more elementary substances by means of one or more chemical reactions.

Systemic: Affecting the entire body. A systemic disease such as diabetes can affect the whole body. Systemic chemotherapy employs drugs that travel through the bloodstream and reach and affect cells all over the body.

Taste: Taste belongs to our chemical sensing system, or the chemosenses. The complicated process of tasting begins when molecules released by the substances stimulate special cells in the mouth or throat. These special sensory cells transmit messages through nerves to the brain where specific tastes are identified.

Trans fatty acidsA fat that is produced when liquid fat (oil) is turned into solid fat through a chemical process called hydrogenation (See definition). Eating a large amount of trans fatty acids also raises blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease.

Tissue: A tissue in medicine is not like a piece of tissue paper. It is a broad term that is applied to any group of cells that perform specific functions. A tissue in medicine need not form a layer. Thus, the bone marrow is a tissue; Connective tissue consists of cells that make up fibers in the framework supporting other body tissues; and lymphoid tissue is the part of the body's immune system that helps protect it from bacteria and other foreign entities.

Underwater weighingA research method for estimating body fat. A person is placed in a tank, underwater, and weighed. By comparing weight underwater with weight on land, one can get a very good measure of body fat and thus define obestiy.

Unsaturated fat (un-SATCH-er-ay-ted)A fat that is liquid at room temperature. Vegetable oils are unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats include polyunsaturated fats, and monounsaturated fats. They include most nuts, olives, avocados, and fatty fish, like salmon.

Uterus: The uterus (womb) is a hollow, pear-shaped organ located in a woman's lower abdomen between the bladder and the rectum. The narrow, lower portion of the uterus is the cervix; the broader, upper part is the corpus. The corpus is made up of two layers of tissue.

Vertical Banded Gastroplasty (VBG): This procedure is becoming the most frequently used restrictive operation for weight control. It is less extensive than the RNY (above). Both a band and staples are used to create a small stomach pouch. The procedure works best on individuals who are not binge eaters.

Very-low calorie diet Also called “VLCD.”A person following a VLCD eats or drinks a commercially prepared formula that has 800 calories or less, instead of eating food. A VLCD can allow a person to lose weight more quickly than is usually possible with low-calorie diets, but should only be used under the supervision of a health care provider.

Vitamins: The word "vitamin" was coined in 1911 by the Warsaw-born biochemist Casmir Funk (1884-1967). At the Lister Institute in London, Funk isolated a substance that prevented nerve inflammation (neuritis) in chickens raised on a diet deficient in that substance. He named the substance "vitamine" because he believed it was necessary to life and it was a chemical amine. The "e" at the end was later removed when it was recognized that vitamins need not be amines.

Waist circumference: A measurement of the waist. Fat around the waist increases the risk of obesity-related health problems. Women with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches or men with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches have a higher risk of developing obesity-related health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Weight control: For the purposes of this weight loss glossary, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight by eating well and getting regular physical activity.

Weight-cycle: Losing and gaining weight over and over again. Commonly called “yo-yo” dieting.

Weight Loss: Weight loss is a decrease in body weight resulting from either voluntary (diet, exercise) or involuntary (illness) circumstances. Most instances of weight loss arise due to the loss of body fat, but in cases of extreme or severe weight loss, protein and other substances in the body can also be depleted. Examples of involuntary weight loss include the weight loss associated with cancer, malabsorption (such as from chronic diarrheal illnesses), and chronic inflammation (such as with rheumatoid arthritis).

WLS: Weight Loss Surgery, such as gastric bypass.

Wrist: The proximal segment (the near part) of the hand consisting of the carpal bones and the associated soft tissue.

X-ray: 1. High-energy radiation with waves shorter than those of visible light. X-rays possess the properties of penetrating most substances (to varying extents), of acting on a photographic film or plate (permitting radiography), and of causing a fluorescent screen to give off light (permitting fluoroscopy). In low doses X-rays are used for making images that help to diagnose disease, and in high doses to treat cancer. Formerly called a Roentgen ray. 2. An image obtained by means of X-rays.