According to the Centers of Disease Control, more than 134 million Americans − more than two-thirds of the nation’s adult population − are overweight or obese. It’s a condition that results from an accumulation of fat that is out of proportion to the body’s skeletal and physical standards.
The underlying causes of excess weight are multiple and complex. It is not simply a result of overeating. Research has shown that in many cases it has a genetic basis. Studies have also demonstrated that once the problem is established, traditional countermeasures such as dieting and exercise often fail to provide long-term improvement.
The relative ineffectiveness of these conventional approaches has resulted in an increasing use of surgery to achieve weight loss. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, some 220,000 Americans underwent weight-loss procedures in 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available.
Understanding Morbid Obesity
Several other factors come into play, including growing knowledge about the risks of “morbid obesity” – excess weight that may trigger one or more health conditions or serious diseases (such as diabetes or high blood pressure) which have the potential to cause significant physical disability or even death.
Morbid obesity is usually defined by either a:
- Body weight 100 pounds or more above the threshold considered optimal for a given height
- Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher. (BMI is calculated by dividing your weight by the square of your height.)
Surgery should be viewed first and foremost as a method for alleviating debilitating, chronic disease. For many patients, going without surgery carries a higher risk of death than do the possible complications associated with a given procedure. Patients who have undergone surgery and are benefiting from the results report improvements in their quality of life, social interactions, psychological well-being, employment opportunities, and economic condition. Anyone contemplating bariatric surgery is encouraged to be proactive in learning about the benefits and risks of these potentially life-saving procedures.
The Medical Center of Plano’s Bariatric Surgery Institute hosts and coordinates informational seminars and support-group meetings for prospective patients on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. The meetings take place on the TMCP campus in Building 3, which is located one block west of the main hospital at 4001 West 15th Street. Attendees learn about the most popular approaches to weight-loss surgery, and have an opportunity to hear what patients who have already undergone bariatric surgery have to say. Prospective patients are encouraged to bring along family members and other loved ones who will form their support system following surgery.
For more information, please visit Medical Center of Plano online of call the Bariatric Surgery Institute at 972-596-5225.