More than two decades later, the above statement still holds true.
It is estimated that by 2030, more than half of the US population will be characterized as obese. Within that group, the clinically severe or morbidly obese segment faces the fastest growth. These patients are at a higher risk of disability or even premature death. The estimated number of deaths attributable to obesity among US adults is approximately 280,000 each year. The annual economic cost itself is in the tens of billions of dollars.
It is vital to understand that morbid obesity is not a “condition,” but rather a chronic and progressive inflammatory disease that negatively affects every organ system in the body. For some, no amount of dieting, exercise, or lifestyle modification can significantly impact severe obesity. These patients typically lose a considerable amount of weight over and over, only to regain it a short time later with an additional amount. This is in part due to inherent “wiring” or acquired mechanisms genetically inherited from the days of “famine and feast,” where evolution favored those who could survive prolonged periods of low food supplies. Whereas those days may be over for much of the world, the “wiring” has not changed.
[vslider name=”whysurgery”]Genetics, however, does not completely account for the rising obesity epidemic. The mechanization of everyday life and the commercialization of our food supply with cheap mass-produced, high-caloric items are key factors as well. Equally important, is the concept of personal responsibility. Understanding this concept prior to bariatric surgery is vital to achieving successful and sustained outcomes afterwards.
It is imperative to know that bariatric surgery, also known as metabolic surgery, does not make patients slim or thin, cure eating disorders, or overcome all negative slants in life. What such surgery does is provide patients with a very powerful tool to assist in weight loss as part of a comprehensive change in both lifestyle and eating habits. These changes, furthermore, should occur prior to surgery. Whereas in the past identical efforts would lead to limited outcomes, after bariatric surgery those very same patients are able to achieve a much higher level of success. Surgery, therefore, remains extremely effective for the committed majority who maintain the necessary changes in lifestyle and eating habits. It will be far less effective for the unwilling minority who refuse to take personal responsibility and vie instead for a quick fix or magic pill.
So, why should you (or a loved one) consider bariatric surgery? Because, in its 50 years of existence, the results remain unmatched by anything else in medicine. An expanding body of knowledge and an ever-growing number of scientific publications continue to support this notion. Surgery should never be considered as the first-line treatment for morbid obesity, but nor should it be delayed to the point where medical problems continue to amass, making you less healthy or even too sick for surgery. Determining whether to proceed is, therefore, a process that requires serious discussion with your doctor and your family. The decision, however, ultimately rests with you, for it is your life, your health, and your choice.