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Understanding Obesity

Obesity is the number one public health concern in the 21st century. Nearly 40 percent of the adult population is considered obese. In this population, efforts such as dieting and exercise programs have a limited ability to provide effective long-term weight loss and improvement of chronic disease related to obesity.

Obesity brings with it an increased risk for medical conditions such as severe heartburn, hypertension, heart disease, Type II diabetes, and sleep apnea. For individuals exceeding twice their ideal body weight, the risk of an early death is doubled compared to non-obese individuals.

It is very important to understand that weight loss surgery does not cure obesity. Rather it is a tool to help you transform your life to reduce the effects of excessive weight and alleviate the serious physical, emotional and social consequences of the disease.

Causes of Obesity

The reasons for obesity are multiple and complex. Despite conventional wisdom, it is not simply a result of overeating. Research has shown that in many cases a significant, underlying cause of obesity may be genetic. Studies have demonstrated that once the problem is established, efforts such as dieting and exercise programs have a limited ability to provide effective long-term relief.

Science continues to search for answers. But until the disease is better understood, the control of excess weight is something patients must work at for their entire lives. That is why it is very important to understand that all current medical interventions, including weight loss surgery, should not be considered medical cures.

Contributing Factors

There are many factors that contribute to the development of obesity including genetic, hereditary, environmental, metabolic and eating disorders. There are also certain medical conditions that may result in obesity like intake of steroids and hypothyroidism.

Genetic Factors

Scientific studies have shown genes play an important role in your tendency to gain excess weight.

We probably have a number of genes directly related to weight. Just as some genes determine eye color or height, others affect our appetite, our ability to feel full or satisfied, our metabolism, our fat-storing ability, and even our natural activity levels.

Environmental Factors

Environmental and genetic factors are obviously closely intertwined. If you have a genetic predisposition toward obesity, then the modern American lifestyle and environment may make controlling weight more difficult.

Fast food, long days sitting at a desk, and suburban neighborhoods that require cars all magnify hereditary factors such as metabolism and efficient fat storage.

For those suffering from obesity, anything less than a total change in environment usually results in failure to reach and maintain a healthy body weight.

Metabolism

We used to think of weight gain or loss as only a function of calories ingested and then burned. Take in more calories than you burn, gain weight; burn more calories than you ingest, lose weight. But now we know the equation isn’t that simple.

Obesity researchers now talk about a theory called the “set point,” a sort of thermostat in the brain that makes people resistant to either weight gain or loss. If you try to override the set point by drastically cutting your calorie intake, your brain responds by lowering metabolism and slowing activity. You then gain back any weight you lost.

Eating Disorders and Medical Conditions

Weight loss surgery is not a cure for eating disorders. And there are medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, that can also cause weight gain. That’s why it’s important that you work with your doctor to make sure you do not have a condition that should be treated with medication and counseling.

Am I Obese?

Answering this question may give you the courage you need to take the first step. Below are tools you can use to determine if you are obese and potentially a candidate for weight loss surgery.

There are several medically accepted criteria for defining obesity. You are likely obese if you are:

  • more than 100 lbs. over your ideal body weight, or
  • have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 40, or
  • have a BMI of over 35 and are experiencing severe negative health effects, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, related to being severely overweight
  • unable to achieve a healthy body weight for a sustained period of time, even through medically supervised dieting

Obesity is often defined using a tool called body mass index (BMI). BMI is calculated by using height and weight measurements.

Calculate my BMI

Are YOU a candidate for weight loss surgery? More Information