There’s an epidemic haunting California: the epidemic of obesity. In the Golden State alone, more than 56% of the population is overweight or obese, with the prevalence of obesity having risen markedly in California over the past decade. According to the California Department of Public Health:
“This epidemic affects virtually all age, income, educational, ethnic and disability groups… [and] 22 percent of California children and teens [are] overweight… Rates of chronic disease and disability associated with poor diet and inactivity continue to escalate year after year.”
SOURCE: California Obesity Prevention Plan: A Vision for Tomorrow, Strategic Actions for Today, http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/Pages/COPP.aspx
And it’s spreading. Nationwide, obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
What does the epidemic of obesity mean for Californians? State health officials warn that those above their healthy weight may fall victim to other life-threatening illnesses, called co-morbidities, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and Type II diabetes.
The costs and consequences associated with obesity constitute a greater threat to the overall health of Californians than do tobacco use or alcohol abuse. And, treating these conditions creates a significant economic burden for the state.
“California’s costs attributable to physical inactivity, obesity and overweight [individuals] in 2005 were projected to reach $28 billion for health care and lost work productivity… The public sector finances nearly half of all adult obesity medical spending through Medicaid and Medicare…” [Ibid.]
It’s obvious that the people of California need to do something to control the obesity epidemic.
What to Do?
Living with obesity is a struggle, and those who suffer from this condition often make dozens, if not hundreds of attempts to lose their excess weight through diet and exercise programs, weight-loss pills, hypnosis, and other means. Some sufferers lose significant weight in this fashion, but many quickly regain it after they suspend their weight loss program.
Fortunately, another option exists: weight loss surgery. Surgical Bariatric surgery has been proven to help ease or even completely resolve obesity-related health problems for individuals with a BMI of at least 35. It can also help obese individuals who have no co-morbidities reach their ideal weight and reduce their chances of developing weight-related health issues in the future.
About Weight Loss Surgery
Most weight loss surgery procedures are performed laparoscopically under general anesthesia, although some are performed through open surgery. Malabsorptive procedures involve changes to the patient’s intestinal tract, which in turn changes the way the body absorbs calories and nutrients. Restrictive procedures, such as the Lap-band procedure, create a smaller stomach pouch that limits the amount of food a person can eat and helps them feel full faster. Combination procedures, like the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, also create a small stomach pouch in addition to altering the intestinal tract.
Not a Magic Cure
Weight loss surgery can be a true lifesaver – but it’s no magic cure for the epidemic of obesity in California. If a patients fails to adopt a healthy lifestyle after surgery, he or she may regain any weight lost. And, of course, bariatric surgery presents the possibility of major postoperative complications, including anemia, ulcers, internal hernias, calcium deficiencies, and gallstones.
Those considering surgical treatment for obesity should weigh the risks and possible outcomes of these procedures carefully in consultation with their physician before making a decision.