A Cut Above?
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, normal BMI in the average adult is 18.5 -24.9. Morbid Obesity occurs when the BMI is over 40, and it is this population that is the target for bariatric surgery.
Recently, bariatric surgery or surgery for weight loss, is becoming increasingly popular as a way to address obesity and comorbidities, such as heart disease and diabetes, after diet and exercise has failed. The purpose of the surgery is to reduce the amount of food consumed by restricting the volume of food the stomach can hold or the amount of calories the body absorbs.
The 2 most popular types of bariatric surgeries is gastric banding and gastric bypass.
Gastric banding is when a small plastic band is placed around the upper portion of the stomach, restricting the amount of food one can eat. Gastric Bypass is where they actually cut part of the stomach and reroute it to the small bowels. With both procedures, the idea is that the patient will get full quicker and slow down the amount of food that is processed through the stomach and the small bowels.
When dealing with morbid obesity, many people arrive at the decision to have surgery out of extreme frustration with their body size and addictive food behaviors. They are looking for a way out of the hopelessness of carrying all that extra weight on their skeleton. But it’s not an easy fix.
The side effects of the surgeries were surveyed in a study done by the University Obesity Center in Brussels, Belgium. The study found that 1 out of 3 patients who chose the banding surgery experienced band erosion, where the band actually erodes form the outside of the stomach into the inside of the stomach. This caused nearly 50 % of patient’s to have their bands removed in another operation. The study also found that complications from both surgeries can include internal bleeding, a collapsed lung and even death. In the end, these surgeries can and do fail.
Bariatric surgery is merely a technical way to address weight loss that does nothing to deal with the emotional reasons that people act out with food. These weight loss techniques are extreme and people who opt to have them will still have to work out their emotional issues, find ways to self soothe, eat less, and exercise more.