WHAT IS OBESITY?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for adults, overweight and obesity ranges are determined by using weight and height to calculate a number called the "Body Mass Index" (BMI). BMI is a number that is calculated based on a person's height and weight.

  • An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight.

  • And adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

The underlying causes of severe obesity are not known. There are many factors that contribute to the development of obesity including the genes we inherit. In addition the American diet focuses on "super-sized" meals that are high in carbohydrates and fats. When you combine this with a relatively sedentary lifestyle the result is inevitable weight gain. The good news is that weight loss can dramatically improve if not completely resolve many health conditions.

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions with more than 300 million obese people worldwide. Obese adults account for more than 30% of US population. 400,000 Americans die prematurely each year due to obesity-related diseases. This number is increasing so rapidly that it has replaced tobacco and smoking as the number one preventable health problem in the United States.

 
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HEALTH CONDITIONS RELATED TO OBESITY

TYPE 2 DIABETES

Excess body weight strains the ability of the heart to function properly. The result is hypertension or high blood pressure which can lead to stroke, as well as heart and kidney damage. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, high blood pressure is twice as common in obese adults versus adults of normal weight. Heart disease, including heart attack and congestive heart failure, is six times more common in obese people. Severely obese people have 40 times the risk of dying suddenly from a heart attack. By implementing a heart healthy diet and portion control, blood pressure can be significantly reduced. Bariatric Surgery can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by 56%.

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE/HEART DISEASE

Excess body weight strains the ability of the heart to function properly. The result is hypertension or high blood pressure which can lead to stroke, as well as heart and kidney damage. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, high blood pressure is twice as common in obese adults versus adults of normal weight. Heart disease, including heart attack and congestive heart failure, is six times more common in obese people. Severely obese people have 40 times the risk of dying suddenly from a heart attack. By implementing a heart healthy diet and portion control, blood pressure can be significantly reduced. Bariatric Surgery can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by 56%.

OSTEOARTHRITIS

The additional weight placed on joints, particularly the knees and hips, results in rapid wear and tear as well as pain from inflammation. This may eventually require joint replacement. Similarly, bones and muscles of the back are constantly strained, resulting in disk problems, pain and decreased mobility. With each pound we can help you lose, there is a 4lb decrease in pressure on your joints.  Many orthopedic surgeons refuse to perform joint replacements in morbidly obese people until they have lost a significant amount of weight.

SLEEP APNEA

Most people are completely unaware of this condition and can go undiagnosed. The danger is that Sleep Apnea can result in dangerous irregular heart beats and can even cause sudden death. Sleep Apnea is when a person temporarily stops breathing during sleep. It is caused by fat deposits in the tongue and neck that cause intermittent blockage of the windpipe. This results in snoring and periods of not breathing. The result is a lack of quality sleep causing daytime drowsiness and headaches. Sleep Apnea is usually completely resolved with weight loss.

GASTROESOPHAGEAL REFLUX/HEARTBURN (GERD)

When acid escapes into the esophagus through a weak or overloaded valve at the top of the stomach, the result is called gastroesophageal reflux. Symptoms can include burning and pain. Approximately 10-15% of patients with mild symptoms of heartburn will develop a condition called Barrett's esophagus, which is a pre-cancerous condition that can lead to esophageal cancer. Dietary and behavioral changes can significantly improve reflux symptoms. Bariatric Surgery can offer complete relief and often a cure for GERD in over 90% of patients.

DEPRESSION

Morbidly Obese people are confronted with many types of discrimination which leads to emotional distress. They may receive criticism from family and friends including disapproval at repeatedly failing diets. They often experience discrimination at work, including not receiving appropriate promotions or raises. They often cannot fit comfortably in theatre seats, booths in a restaurant, or ride in a bus or plane. Simple things like tying one's shoes can become a challenge. It is not uncommon to see withdrawal from social events and even loss of friendships or relationships because of poor self-esteem. The ability to finally take control of one's weight allows the patient to take control of their life.

INFERTILITY

Infertility is defined as the inability or diminished ability to produce offspring. Women who are morbidly obese have altered levels of estrogen and progesterone, which results in irregular menstrual cycles and infertility. This can be reversed once weight loss is achieved.

URINARY STRESS INCONTINENCE

A large, heavy abdomen and relaxation of the pelvic muscles, especially associated with the effects of childbirth, may cause the valve on the urinary bladder to be weakened, leading to leakage of urine with coughing, sneezing, or laughing. Simple weight loss can lead to relief of this debilitating problem.

LIFE EXPECTANCY

Recent articles in the New England Journal of Medicine have shown that Morbid Obesity is associated with an increased risk for a shorter life expectancy. In fact, the life expectancy of morbidly obese individuals is reduced by an estimated 5-20 years. For individuals whose weight exceeds twice their ideal body weight (2-6% of the U.S. population), the risk of an early death is doubled compared to non-obese individuals. The risk of death from diabetes or heart attack is five to seven times greater. Bariatric Surgery has been shown to not only improve heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, GERD, infertility and high cholesterol but also leads to a decreased overall mortality.

 

Stefanie Vaimakis MD FACS FASMBS

(201) 530-1900

222 Cedar Lane Suite 201 Teaneck, NJ 07666, USA

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