Weight loss surgery surges as obesity numbers grow

Obesity is an epidemic in the United States—the startling numbers have lead the issue to be the cause celeb of First Lady Michelle Obama, and caused states such as New York to take drastic measures to curb the issue.

According to the latest CDC numbers, close to 36 percent of adult Americans are obese. In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion, the CDC said.

With the rising number of obese Americans, also comes the rise of the weight-loss surgery industry. In 2002, the number of bariatric procedures jumped 40 percent in the United States, to 80,000. In 2003, statistics from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) show that the number of surgeries exceeded 120,000 in 2003.

In some cases, insurance companies cover weight loss surgeries. But, it is also important to keep in mind that weight loss surgery is not a cure-all. The procedure should be done in conjunction with certain doctor-approved lifestyle changes.

“Undergoing surgery for the purpose of losing weight and improving co-morbidities is obviously a drastic step. It is only considered after more conservative methods have failed,” according to The Weight Loss Clinic at Meritus Health in Hagerstown, Maryland.

There are some instances where the “pouch” (the now-functioning stomach) is enlarged, thus increasing the amount of food the patient is able to eat more, therefore, could gain weight.

The recovery from the surgery is often not a long-term process, but, the maintenance of the weight loss is a longer-term commitment—primarily centered around diet and exercise.

Obesity is considered a chronic disease, therefore, it can be treated, not cured.

“Exercise is a key component to any long-term weight loss program. Bariatric surgery is no exception. Exercising helps to prevent muscle loss and reduction of metabolism,” The Weight Loss Clinic said.