Weight loss resolutions fail. Here’s why.
If losing weight is your New Year’s resolution for yet another year, you may want to consider an alternative to relying solely on diet and exercise to reach your goal weight.
The low success rate from diet and exercise alone typically has nothing to do with a lack of willpower. Rather, it’s a simple fact of human biology. In 2013, the American Medical Association recognized that obesity is a chronic, progressive disease resulting from a combination of strong genetic factors and environmental factors, just like any other disease.
One of the most effective ways modern medicine is fighting the chronic disease of obesity is with bariatric surgery (also called “weight loss surgery”), which is now as safe as other common procedures like knee replacement surgery and gallbladder surgery.
Often obesity accompanies a variety of chronic diseases or conditions. Obesity is linked to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, sleep apnea and more. These associated conditions explain why losing weight and keeping it off is about much more than vanity. Fighting obesity isn’t just for people who want to change their appearance; it’s for people who want to finally improve their health.
In fact, for the 40% of U.S. adults who struggle with obesity, treating obesity with weight loss surgery may literally help them beat death. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, weight loss surgery is associated with a reduction in early death and increased long-term survival.
With weight loss surgery, people not only live longer, but live better. Patients with Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obstructive sleep apnea experience a significant resolution of these diseases after surgery. For example, the surgery resolves diabetes completely for 76.8% of bariatric surgery patients. Even when patients’ diseases don’t completely go away after surgery, they often show substantial improvement.
Perhaps the most appealing part of the surgery is that results are both quick and lasting. One study showed that patients undergoing gastric bypass surgery — a common type of bariatric surgery — lost 77% of excess body weight on average within a year and maintained the weight loss over a five-year follow-up period.
Your doctor can help determine whether you’re a good candidate for weight loss surgery and what type of surgery you should consider. Typically, someone who has a body mass index over 40 or is overweight by 100 pounds or more may be a good candidate. Someone with a BMI over 35 who has one or more obesity-associated diseases — including Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, osteoarthritis, lipid abnormalities, gastrointestinal disorders or heart disease — may also be a candidate.
Then, depending on your specific weight loss and disease control goals, your doctor will likely recommend one of three different approaches to weight loss surgery: gastric bypass surgery, duodenal switch surgery or sleeve gastrectomy.
Some people may hesitate to undergo elective weight loss surgery given its potential risks. Like all surgeries there are some risks, and it’s important to discuss these with one’s doctor. Even so, it may be helpful to know that the risk of complications from gastric bypass surgery, for example, is on par with gallbladder surgery, and the mortality risk is on par with knee replacement surgery — both commonly performed surgeries that are typically considered safe. A doctor will also be able to further clarify a patient’s personal risks.
As you decide whether to move forward and whom to choose as your provider, look for a doctor who will continue to support you after the surgery is complete and help you undergo a complete lifestyle transformation. Weight loss, after all, is an ongoing journey toward better health. Surgery is simply the first step.
For more information about whether you could be a candidate for weight loss surgery, visit Garden State Bariatrics at gsbwc.com.