Bariatric surgery, once seen as the last resort of the morbidly obese, is slowly becoming a viable option for additional populations on the obesity spectrum. The idea behind these surgeries is to reduce the size of the stomach, in one of several ways. The patient experiences quick weight loss as a result.
We received a pitch email yesterday, from the PR agency of a Pittsburgh bariatric surgeon, informing us that guidelines for eligibility for bariatric surgery are changing. In 2008, you had to have a BMI of 40 or higher to be considered for weight loss surgery. But now, doctors from several expert boards are recommending surgery for obese people with BMI’s starting at 30, if they have additional risk factors such as diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
We asked Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, MD, an obesity and nutrition expert, assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, as well as blogger, whether this is good or bad news. His response:
Good because it offers a quality and quantity of life increasing intervention to more people.
Bad because more people need it.
While people regularly talk of how it’d be so much better without surgery the fact remains, we don’t seem to be very good at helping people make lifelong changes that provide the same outcomes surgery does.
Looking at bariatric surgery through the eyes of a friend who had a successful procedure last year, we can vouch for its life transforming effect on her. But from a societal perspective, this development is another sad sign that we are captives of a system that leads us down a very dangerous food path. Poor regulatory controls and excess corporate influence have created an obesogenic economy that is choking our health.
Our generation has no less self control than that of our parents or grandparents. Our patriarchs did not get as fat or sick as we are because there were less daily opportunities to eat fattening foods and drink diabesity causing soft drinks. Today everywhere you turn there is a vending machine or an ad to eat something junky.
We get told that it’s our own personal responsibility to eat right, but poor public health policy has a major contribution to this country’s high obesity rates. Simple measures like calorie labels on food and drink in movie theaters, limitations on soft drink size, improved labels, and a 100% ban on advertising to kids are almost impossible to push through Congress because our politicians and bureaucrats are in the pockets of lobbies and corporations.
In the coming years, expect to see more solutions that fix the problem of obesity, instead of solutions that prevent it.