Featured Obesity Article


´╗┐Obesity Surgery - A Last Resort?

If a specially designed diet or exercise plan is not successful for an obese individual, obesity surgery may be the correct option. The correct surgery in the right situation can be a life-saving decision. But most medical professionals and counselors will advise this path only as a last resort.

The World Health Organization notes that a person is obese if there is accumulation of fatty tissue more than two times the standard. However, a more specific indicator is available so that the individual and medical advisers can determine if obesity surgery is right for their particular situation. These guidelines can help individuals and medical personnel deal with this growing health risk.

How do medical researchers and doctors determine who is obese and who might be a candidate for obesity surgery? The goal is to measure the amount of fat in the body. The most commonly used method is body mass index (BMI). It is the method most widely used by researchers to set obesity levels, and is determined by dividing a person's weight by height.

For example, a person 70 inches tall (5'10") who weights 270 pounds has a BMI of 39. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (sections of the National Institutes of Health) identify overweight as a BMI of 25 to 29.9 and obesity as a BMI of 30 or greater.

Candidates for obesity surgery include those who have a BMI of 40 or more, or a BMI of 35 to 40 and a health risk such as type 2 diabetes or severe sleep apnea. Surgical choices include: restrictive surgery that limits food intake; malabsorptive procedures that isolate the small intestine from the digestive tract; and a combination of the two types. Medical professionals are now advising against malabsorptive operations due to the risk of severe nutrition deficiencies.

A particular type of surgical procedure of the restrictive type is called lap band surgery. The idea behind the operation is to create a small pouch in the upper part of the stomach, thus limiting food intake. With this laparoscopic procedure a band device is put in place through tiny incisions in the abdomen and is placed around the upper part of the stomach.

Humans and other mammals have a natural energy reserve stored in the fatty tissue. Basically, we need a certain amount of fat as stored energy and for insulating the body. But this condition can increase to the point where it becomes a health concern. Too much fat can lead to serious health problems. Studies have also indicated that obesity in America contributes to almost as many deaths each year as tobacco use does. This fact leads many to choose obesity surgery if other options cannot give the desired results.