The facts are in – and the situation is serious. The growing state of Virginia is growing in size, as well. According to data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, some 59% of the adult population of the Old Dominion is overweight or obese, along with some 20% of our school-age kids.
And that’s dangerous. Obesity is a major cause of preventable death in the United States, killing both directly and by means of diabetes, cancer, heart conditions, and hypertension.
Blame our unhealthy diet and lifestyles. More than 70% of Virginians don’t get the recommended daily allotment of physical activity (30 minutes, five times a week). Three out of four Virginians eat less than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Is it any wonder we’re getting fat?
And then there’s the price tag. Sticker shock: Virginia’s direct obesity-attributable health care costs each year are close to $2 billion. It’s obvious that Virginia can no longer afford “business as usual” when it comes to obesity.
What is Obesity?
Obesity is a medical condition typified by the patient being above their healthy weight. Healthy weight is calculated in terms of individual body mass index (BMI). Those with a BMI of 25 or higher are considered overweight; those with a BMI of 30 or higher are considered obese. BMI is calculated by a mathematical formula ( BMI = 703w/h2, where w=weight in pounds and h=height in inches). Carrying the extra weight is not the whole story, however. Obesity is a disease. While it’s true that losing weight is an overall benefit to health, dealing with obesity as a disease is not that simple. Obesity is a disease of the whole person, not just the stomach, and only by treating each patient as a whole person can the disease be successfully managed.
Happily, obesity can be treated. By making simple adjustments in lifestyle and eating habits, a patient can hope to recover completely from obesity. A staged, structured program of medically-supervised diet, coupled with appropriate counseling and behavioral changes, will safely eliminate unhealthy weight in most cases.
Unfortunately, some patients are beyond these standard approaches to care. For them, weight loss surgery is the best option for recovery.
About Weight Loss Surgery
Weight loss surgery is a laparoscopic procedure performed under general anesthesia. The patient’s stomach and/or digestive tract is modified to limit the amount of food the patient can physically consume. This, along with a comprehensive post-op care program, will inevitably cause the patient’s weight to decrease, usually dramatically.
The procedure takes three forms—malabsorptive, restrictive or combination—all of which are safe, in most cases. As with any type of surgery, however, weight loss surgery does entail risk, including the risk of premature death. Failure to modify one’s diet and lifestyle post-operatively may cause the patient to regain any weight lost or experience other undesirable health effects. The decision to undergo weight loss surgery is also irrevocable in most cases.
Weight loss surgery is an option for the management of obesity that should be carefully examined in consultation with a physician.
A Healthier Virginia
Weight loss surgery is not a magic cure – but it can help in the battle of the bulge when no other method can. Along with sensible lifestyle and dietary changes, it stands as a powerful weapon in the Old Dominion’s war on obesity.