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Is Weight-Loss Surgery Better Than Diet and Exercise?

Health Attitude Book CoverOne of the topics in Health Attitude is obesity. This post includes a summary of what I wrote. Obesity is a chronic condition that has become a pandemic. In 2013 at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association, physicians voted overwhelmingly to categorize obesity as “a disease that requires a range of interventions to advance treatment and prevention”. In the United States, 34.9% of adults are obese. A rule of thumb is morbid obesity is a condition of weighing double or more a person’s ideal weight. It is called morbidly obese because it correlates with numerous serious and life-threatening conditions. Obesity is a significant inhibitors to America’s positive growth and development. Three percent of the population are considered morbidly obese, but the treatment of the condition and related healthcare costs represent 21% of healthcare spending. Obesity is a serious problem beyond the condition itself.

Obesity causes serious related diseases including diabetes, cancer, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and cardiovascular disease, including myocardial infarction. The quality of life for an obese person is reduced significantly. Unfortunately, there is no simple procedure or medication to eliminate the negative conditions from obesity. There are three main approaches to managing obesity; lifestyle modification, pharmacological treatment, and bariatric surgery. Each has significant economic and ethical implications. The most effective treatment for obesity is a combination of behavior modification and bariatric surgery. However, a new study suggests that the surgical route is better. See Weight-Loss Surgery Better Than Diet and Exercise in Treating Type 2 Diabetes, Study Finds.

The causes of obesity are complex and include socioeconomic factors such as household income, median earned income, employment, poverty status, and welfare participation. These factors influence lifestyle changes through clinics, counseling, and home healthcare. A bariatric surgeon told me the surgery is just one small encounter with a lifelong obese patient. She said that patients understand they have to change their lifestyle or surgery won’t solve the problem, but often they do not make the required changes. She went on to tell me that bariatric surgery could help people achieve an improved level of health.

The section on obesity is more prescriptive than other parts of Health Attitude because I strongly believe the growing impact of the disease is extraordinary. There are numerous actions healthcare providers can take to have a positive impact on obesity. I outlined eight of them in the book.

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