BACKGROUND: Obesity means having too much body fat and also that a person’s weight is higher than what is considered to be healthy for their height. Biology plays a big role in why some people become obese, but not getting enough exercise, eating more food than the body can use, and drinking too much alcohol also contributes to people becoming obese. Obesity is a major health threat because excess weight puts more stress on every part of the body and puts people at risk of several health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. (Source: www.nih.gov)
SIGNS: How do you know if you are obese? The two common ways to determine your weight and the health risks associated with that weight are body mass index (aka BMI) and waist circumference. Both of these measurements can estimate how much body fat you have. BMI is calculated using height and weight, so different people will have different BMIs that are considered healthy. Waist circumference is the size of a person’s waist (the area right about the hip bones) and extra weight around the waist and stomach has been linked to several health problems. A good rule of thumb for waist circumference is to maintain a waist size that is smaller than hip circumference. For people who naturally have body shapes where their hips are larger than their waist, they still have an increased risk for the diseases linked to extra weight around the waist.
TREATMENT: For some people, lifestyle changes like maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help them drop body fat and stop being obese. For others though, it can be extremely difficult to lose the body fat and keep it off. Medications for losing weight fast are all over the market, but some can have serious side effects and may not actually be effective. For obese people who can’t lower their amount of body fat through lifestyle changes, surgery is an option. These are three common weight-loss surgeries:
- Laparoscopic gastric banding – A band is placed around the upper part of the stomach to create a small pouch to hold food; limiting the amount of food a person can eat.
- Gastric bypass surgery – The stomach is made smaller with staples and then a small part of the small intestine is connected to the stomach pouch left to hold food so the body will absorb fewer calories.
- Sleeve gastrectomy – This surgery is less common and parts of the stomach are actually removed to make it smaller. (Source: www.nih.gov)
STOMACH PLICATION: Stomach plication is a minimally invasive surgery where the stomach is folded into a smaller size, and the doctors can even reduce the volume of the stomach by 70 percent. Stomach plication is possibly reversible and is performed laparoscopically, which means only one to five small incisions are made in the abdomen to reach the stomach. Another benefit of stomach plication is that the patient will not have any severe food restrictions. Currently, stomach plication is a clinical trial option at the University of California San Diego Health System. (Source: www.ucsd.edu)