Introduction to obesity
Obesity is a chronic disease that can have profound effects on a person’s body as well as mind. Simple everyday tasks can become challenging for an obese person who must also deal with social, psychological and health problems. In its severe form, obesity can lead to serious health problems, poor quality of life and a shortened life span. Obesity is a chronic disease that is difficult to fight alone. The vast majority (95%) of patients will have struggled with multiple diets only to find the weight has come back on. Obesity surgery, or bariatric surgery, is the only proven long-term solution to the disease and its related medical problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea among others.
Calculating Body Mass Index (BMI)
Obesity is defined as the presence of fat in excessive amounts in the body. Using weight is not accurate in assessing obesity as it doesn’t take into account each patient’s body form. A relatively easy way to classify the severity of obesity is to use the body mass index (BMI) which is calculated as weight (kgs) divided by height square (m2). A normal BMI is between 19 and 25 kg/m2. A person with a BMI between 25 and 30 is considered overweight. A patient with a BMI more than 30 kg/m2 is considered obese and one with a BMI in excess of 35 kg/m2 is considered morbidly obese. Bariatric surgery is generally considered in patients with a BMI more than 35 kg/m2. To calculate your BMI use use the formula below.
Health Risks Associated with Obesity
Obesity is a dangerous disease that leads to a shortened lifespan and poorer quality of life. There are many illnesses that appear or get aggravated with increasing body weight and waist circumference. Examples of obesity related problems:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Sleep apnea
- High cholesterol and triglycerides
- Shortness of breath
- Joint or back problems
- Heartburn or acid reflux
- Sexual dysfunction and impotence
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Kidney dysfunction
- Depression/psychosocial dysfunction
- Many types of cancer
- Fatty liver
- Gall stones
- Headaches and migraines
- Blood clots or venous insufficiency
- Urinary incontinence
Surgery is Very effective
Weight loss surgery (WLS) or bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment of morbid obesity. It has been shown over many decades to improve health, enhance quality of life and prolong survival. WLS carries some risks and side effects. Therefore there should be a balance between risk and benefit from surgery and patients should be selected carefully for WLS.
Who is a good candidate for WLS?
A good candidate for WLS is someone who has morbid obesity BMI >35 kg/m2 especially if he or she has obesity related medical problems such as diabetes or sleep apnea, has tried multiple diet programs but failed, is motivated to modify lifestyle and dietary habits after WLS, is mentally and psychologically stable, and understands the risks and benefits of WLS.
WLS can be considered at any age but the very young and the very old need more extensive evaluation and counseling. WLS may be considered for patients who are less severely obese if they suffer from obesity related complications and are not responding to conventional treatment.