Fat Loss: A Conversation with an Obesity Medicine Specialist

Many individuals create New Year’s resolutions centered around weight loss and lifestyle changes that will help them live healthier lives. However, most people give up on their goals before experiencing their desired change. In fact, about 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail, and most fail before February. Based on this information, we contacted Dr. Curtis Preik of Camino Clinic to learn about weight loss and get back on track to achieving our goals.

However, we quickly realized that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the topic of weight loss. We then decided to focus our conversation on fat loss rather than weight loss in general.

Throughout this blog, Dr. Preik will explain the difference between weight loss and fat loss, discuss some common medical conditions associated with excess fat, and offer some advice for losing fat to help you achieve your goals. Before we dive into the conversations, let’s introduce you to Dr. Preik.

Curtis Preik, Ph.D., M.D., M.S., Dipl. of ABFM, Dipl. of ABOM

About Dr. Preik

Dr. Curtis Preik is a board-certified Family Physician, an Obesity Medicine Specialist, and the Medical Director of Camino Clinic. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and attended medical school at the American University of the Caribbean. He obtained his master’s degree in 2003 and his medical degree in 2005.

Now that you know who Dr. Preik is, let’s talk about fat loss!

What is the difference between weight loss and fat loss?

Fat loss is the underlying goal when trying to lose weight. You burn fat during the process of losing weight. However, fat is not the only fuel source of the body. Unfortunately, you cannot exclusively burn fat with weight loss or spot-burn fat (i.e., just burn off belly fat). So, in the ideal scenario, you want to maximize fat loss while minimizing the loss of muscle tissue in the process.

What are some health consequences of excess fat?

Obesity is not a term that anyone likes to hear, but medically, it is a significant diagnosis. Obesity is a defined medical condition that impacts all body areas and is best compared to diabetes. The underlying cause of either disease (i.e., excess body fat or elevated blood sugars) has a continuum of severity and preceding diagnoses (i.e., being medically overweight or pre-diabetic). Both can significantly impair a person’s health and longevity. Both medical conditions benefit from specialist expertise to provide long-term control and prevent future complications.

Body mass index (BMI), the ratio of a person’s weight to height (BMI = Weight (kg) / Height (㎡)), is one of the primary standardized methods to assess body weight. Although not always perfect, BMI correlates well with excess body fat and provides a reasonable estimation of a person’s risk of illness associated with unhealthy weight.

Research shows that obesity (BMI of 30 or higher) in young adulthood is associated with a 64% higher risk of death and an 89% higher risk of mortality due to cardiovascular disease later in life.[1] Once a person is categorically overweight (BMI 25), every five-point increase in BMI correlates with a 30% increased risk of death.[2] 

Unhealthy weight impacts all areas of the body and directly correlates with numerous medical issues. As a general rule of thumb, the higher one’s BMI, the greater the risk. However, sustained weight loss can help prevent, treat, or even reverse some of these conditions. 

Common medical conditions associated with unhealthy weight include:

  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Arthritis
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Fatty Liver Disease
  • Gallbladder Disease
  • Cancer
  • Metabolic Syndrome

How does long-term weight loss improve medical conditions associated with an unhealthy weight?

Losing as little as 5% body weight can help improve some medical issues associated with excess body fat. For patients with a BMI over 30, losing 10% body weight can improve the following conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency
  • Daytime Somnolence
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Kidney Disease
  • Gallbladder Disease
  • Gout
  • Heart Disorders
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Impaired Respiratory Function
  • Infertility
  • Liver Disease
  • Low Back Pain
  • OBGYN Complications
  • Pain
  • Pancreatitis
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Stroke
  • Stress Incontinence

What advice do you have for people who want to lose weight?

Make gradual changes that fit you. Drastic lifestyle changes are often a temporary solution resulting in temporary results. Rapid weight loss will also utilize a higher percentage of alternate fuel sources for energy (which means more muscle loss). 

Stop dieting. A diet is a temporary fix, but what you need is a long-term solution. Instead, focus on maintainable changes that result in long-term weight loss. Think of permanence when trying to lose weight. Ask yourself, “is this change maintainable?” If so, then it is probably a good start. 

Now that you know a little more about fat loss, you can begin to make the necessary changes to achieve your goals. However, weight loss can be difficult to achieve on your own, especially for individuals who suffer from chronic health conditions associated with being overweight. If you or someone you know suffers from chronic weight-related health conditions and need professional help, contact Camino Clinic at 704.596.5606 to speak with a provider. If you wish to learn more about weight loss and other weight-related information, you can visit Dr. Preik’s personal blog for his professional expertise.


1. Hirko et al. Am J Epidemiol. 2015; 182: 441-450. 

2. Lancet 2009; 373 (9669): 1083.