Billions are spent each year treating millions of patients around the world suffering from diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, sleep apnea, cancer, asthma, reflux, infertility, low back pain, and osteoarthritis. What if there was a treatment that could prevent, cure or give better control to all of them and very few people were using it? This is the case with lifesaving obesity surgery such as gastric banding and the gastric bypass procedure. So, why are they the most underutilized treatments in health care?
A Surgeon’s Personal Journey
I have a very unique vantage point: I am one of the millions of people that lost the nutritional challenge and fell victim to morbid obesity. How does a surgeon reach a weight of 450 pounds with a BMI of 55, suffering from sleep apnea, and chronic back pain? With all my knowledge as a physician, I was not able to succeed in sustaining weight loss on my own. I tried every diet, every exercise program, even going to a fat camp. But, like so many others, I would lose significant weight and, within a period of time, the weight would come back – plus more. This took me on an upward spiral until I reached over 210 pounds above my ideal body weight. At this point, my life became threatened with the likelihood of an early death. Frankly, I was frustrated and disgusted with myself. When you reach this point, perpetual self-disappointment clings to you like the stench of a battlefield. Then you began to believe what the general public believes. You are an individual that is a mental and physical aberration with capabilities and work ethnic below others. Finally, I faced reality; I was over 100 pounds above my ideal body weight and I had become a victim of a disease called morbid obesity. Now, I had to do the right thing to save my life and the right thing was to undergo gastric bypass surgery.
Obesity: Public Enemy #1
For those of you facing this problem every day, you are not alone. Over 91 million people (78 million adults and 13 million children) in the US are obese. One billion adults and 28 million children under the age of 6 are stricken with this condition around the world. Five to ten percent (50-100 million) suffer from morbid obesity as I did.