Obesity: A Disease
Obesity is emerging as a health epidemic around the world. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is rapidly spreading across all regions and demographic groups. An estimated 97 million adults in the United States are overweight or obese. That figure represents more than 50% of the American adult population. Of this group, 11 million adults suffer from severe obesity.
Obesity is an excess of total body fat, which results from caloric intake that exceeds energy usage. A measurement used to assess health risks of obesity is Body Mass Index (BMI).
Click here to find out more about Body Mass Index BMI. The American Obesity Association reports that obese individuals have a 50-100% increased risk of death as compared to normal weight individuals, with 300,000 to 587,000 deaths each year. This substantial increase in health risks has made obesity the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
Causes of Obesity
Obesity could be a combination of the following:
- The genes you inherited from your parents
- How well your body turns food into energy
- Your eating and exercising habits
- Your surroundings
- Psychological factors
Consequences of Obesity
If you are obese, severely obese, or morbidly obese, you may have:
Major health risks
- Shorter Life Expectancy
- Compared to people of normal weight, obese people have a 50% to 100% increased risk of dying prematurely
- Obese people have more risk for:
- Diabetes (type 2)
- Joint problems (e.g., arthritis)
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Gallbladder problems
- Certain types of cancer (breast, uterine, colon)
- Digestive disorders (e.g., gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GORD)
- Breathing difficulties (e.g., sleep apnea, asthma)
- Psychological problems such as depression
- Problems with fertility and pregnancy
- Urinary Incontinence
Risks to psychological and social well-being
- Negative self-image
- Social isolation
Difficulties with day-to-day living
- Normal tasks become harder when you are obese, as movement is more difficult
- You tend to tire more quickly and you find yourself short of breath
- Public transport seats, telephone booths, and cars may be too small for you
- You may find it difficult to maintain personal hygiene
Dieting, exercise, and medication have long been regarded as the conventional methods to achieve weight loss. Sometimes, these efforts are successful in the short term. However, for people who are morbidly obese, the results rarely last. For many, this can translate into what's called the "yo-yo syndrome," where patients continually gain and lose weight with the possibility of serious psychological and health consequences. Recent research reveals that conventional methods of weight loss generally fail to produce permanent weight loss. Several studies have shown that patients on diets, exercise programs, or medication are able to lose approximately 10% of their body weight but tend to regain two-thirds of it within one year, and almost all of it within five years**. Another study found that less than 5% of patients in weight loss programs were able to maintain their reduced weight after five years*.
Why perform surgery for morbid obesity?
Morbid obesity surgery is not cosmetic surgery. All doctors recognise that once a patients weight exceeds a certain range they are more likely to suffer from a wide range of illnesses such as diabetes, sleep apnoea, asthma, hypertension, arthritis, varicose veins and skin problems. Their chances of dying at a premature age is also greatly increased. Their employment prospects, mobility and social acceptance also suffers. Depression is much more common in the morbidly obese. The main aim of this surgery is to bring your weight down to a safer range where most of these associated conditions are reduced in severity and many completely reversed. Along the way most people find an improvement in their mobility, body image, self-esteem and enjoyment of life.
Gastrointestinal surgery for obesity, also called bariatric surgery, change the normal digestive process. The operations promote weight loss by decreasing absorption of nutrients and thereby reducing the calorie intake.