Obesity: A Disease

Obesity is emerging as a health epidemic around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is rapidly spreading across all regions and demographic groups. An estimated 97 million adults in the United States are overweight or obese. That figure represents more than 50% of the American adult population. Of this group, 11 million adults suffer from severe obesity.

Obesity is an excess of total body fat (fat mass), which results from caloric intake that exceeds energy usage. Although there are several ways the amount of body fat one has can be directly measured, these methods are either inaccurate, cumbersome, or expensive. Because of this we use a surrogate of fat mass to assess adiposity. Weight itself is not a good marker for adiposity as it is very significantly affected by height. We therefor use a measurement called the Body Mass Index (BMI). The BMI adjusts for height and in general it is a good marker for adiposity. BMI is calculated by dividing body weight (lbs.) by height in inches squared (in2) and multiplying that amount by 704.5. The metric calculation for BMI is kg/m2. As you can see from the chart to the right, the BMI in most cases reflects the percent body fat. The exception would be body builders with a high muscle mass, who have a high bmi with low body fat.

Calculate Body Mass Index

  • Normal Weight —less than 25
  • Over Weight —25 to 29.9
  • Obese —30 to 34.9
  • Severely Obese —35 to 39.9
  • Morbidly Obese —Greater than 40

Health Consequences of Obesity

The American Obesity Association reports that obese individuals have a 50-100% increased risk of death as compared to normal weight individuals. It is estimated that in the US 300,000 to 587,000 deaths each year are are due to complications of obesity. This substantial increase in health risks has made obesity the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States. It is thought that within the next few years obesity will replace tobacco use as the major cause of “preventable” death in the United States. Morbid Obesity The National Institutes of Health report that morbid obesity may considerably reduce life expectancy and is associated with an increased risk of developing conditions or diseases such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Joint Problems
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Cancer
  • Coronary Artery Disease
  • Infertility
  • Obstetrical Complications
  • Respiratory Problems

Obesity is a Worldwide Epidemic

Obesity is the most common chronic medical condition in the Western world. Most recently areas of the world that traditionally have had issues with malnutrition, are also beginning to see a rise in bot obesity and obesity related issues such as diabetes.

Treatment Options

Non-Surgical Treatment

Dieting, exercise, and medication have long been regarded as the conventional methods to achieve weight loss. This approach is most appropriate for patients with a lower BMI with less weight to lose. One of the best studied non-surgical treatments for obesity are the total meal replacement approaches such as Medifast or Optifast. For patients with severe or morbid obesity, this approach is rarely successful.

Recent research reveals that conventional methods of weight loss generally fail to produce permanent weight loss. Several studies have shown that patients on diets, exercise programs, or medication are able to lose approximately 10% of their body weight but tend to regain two-thirds of it within one year, and almost all of it within five years. Another study found that less than 5% of patients in weight loss programs were able to maintain their reduced weight after five years.

Surgical Treatment

Over the years, weight-loss surgery has proven to be a successful method for the treatment of morbid obesity. Surgical options have continued to evolve and LifeShape is pleased to be able to offer patients the Allergan LAP-BAND® System surgery, Ethicon Realize band, gastric plication, and the pleated band. We are committed to adjustable gastric banding as we feel it is the safest, least traumatic surgical weight loss options. It also is and only adjustable and reversible obesity surgery available in the United States. The LAP-BAND System provides a unique tool that can help you achieve and maintain significant weight loss, improve your health, and enhance your quality of life.