For many, the start of the new year signifies new beginnings. Everyone is also setting their new year resolutions – the most common of which typically focus on improving physical health and losing weight.
Around 41 percent of Americans suffer from obesity, and nearly 10 percent of those individuals are also severely obese.
Additionally, studies have shown that only 1 percent of patients who are 30 pounds or more overweight are able to lose it and keep at least half of those pounds off long term. If these statistics tell us anything, it’s that it can be hard for people to achieve their weight loss goals.
“Obesity and being overweight is a problem that can greatly impact a person’s quality of life,” Jeffrey Landers, MD, one of our bariatric surgeons, shares. “Those who are obese often face additional health challenges, including diabetes, sleep apnea and heart disease. Obesity can also put pressure on household budgets and relationships, impacting more than just a person’s physical health.”
Did you know that our bodies react to weight loss by increasing our appetite and decreasing the number of calories we burn? This causes you to regain weight at a level higher than where you started.
You can thank our hunter and gatherer ancestors for this biological development. Our ancestors had to hunt and search for their calories and usually had fewer than necessary to maintain any excess body fat. Weight loss for them was life-threatening, so our bodies had to develop ways to fight weight loss and retain body fat. Our biology hasn’t changed since that time, making the hormonal mechanisms that might have saved your life from starvation a thousand years ago the same functions preventing you from losing weight now.
Bariatric surgery interrupts these “hunter-gatherer” mechanisms that are harmful to us in the modern world.
In fact, it’s been proven as the most effective tool in reducing the long-term personal, clinical and economic costs of obesity by helping patients successfully lose weight and preventing it from coming back.
“More than 80 percent of bariatric surgery patients keep half to all of their excess weight off in studies exceeding 20 years,” Dr. Landers says. “Research also demonstrates that bariatric surgery patients live about three times longer than obese patients who do not undergo bariatric surgery, and – it cannot be overstated – the overall risk for cancer is 32 percent less after bariatric surgery than it is for obese patients who do not have bariatric surgery.”
He continues, “Those of us who provide bariatric surgery enjoy the field because we cure more disease with one operation than any other field of medicine or surgery. While surgery is extremely effective for weight loss, obesity is still a chronic disease that also requires a commitment to lifestyle changes to successfully treat. When combined with dietary changes and increased exercise, surgery provides optimal results.”
For our patients undergoing bariatric surgery, our bariatric care team is there to provide you with pre-operative and post-operative lifelong support. This includes helping you make changes to your diet and physical activity routines.
Learn more about the weight loss services we offer at Mercy Health.