Obesity has become an epidemic in the United States. An estimated one-third of our adult population is now considered obese and, unfortunately, these numbers continue to rise nearly every year. Obesity is currently the second leading cause of early, preventable death, second only to smoking. Also, the treatment of obesity and weight-related medical problems now accounts for more health care dollars than any other single medical problem.
Obesity is a complex disease of excess fat storage which results when calories consumed exceeds calories burned over a prolonged period of time. Sadly, obesity is often misinterpreted as simply a lack of will-power, when in reality, it is a much more complicated situation. There are often numerous other factors involved which can affect weight, including genetic, hormonal, metabolic, and environmental factors.
Morbid obesity is typically diagnosed when a patient weighs approximately 100 pounds or more over his or her ideal body weight. This excess weight has a profound impact on our bodies and on our health. Morbid obesity often leads to a decreased quality of life and a reduced life expectancy. Additionally, it significantly increases the risk of developing numerous weight-related medical problems such as:
- Type-2 diabetes
- High blood pressure / heart disease
- Dyslipidemia / high cholesterol
- Osteoarthritis / joint problems
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Urinary stress incontinence
- Reproductive problems
There are many different options available for the treatment of morbid obesity. Medical treatment options may include diet and exercise programs, medications, or behavioral therapy. Unfortunately, in the severely obese patient, these methods often do not provide significant or lasting weight loss. Numerous studies have demonstrated that surgery provides the most effective treatment for morbid obesity. Successful weight loss surgery has been shown to:
- Provide both significant and sustained weight loss
- Improve or resolve most weight-related medical problems
- Increase life expectancy
- Improve the quality of life
- Reduce health care costs