The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes obesity as a chronic, progressive disease. Obesity is a disease of excess fat accumulation that robs us of a fulfilling life and causes the development of a number of serious diseases and conditions, referred to as comorbid diseases.
Severe obesity is one of the most serious stages of obesity. In this stage, most patients have unsuccessfully tried multiple diets and even exercise programs, only to be trapped in a cycle of weight gain. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recognizes weight loss (bariatric) surgery as the only effective treatment for severe obesity that allows patients to maintain their weight loss long term.
Causes of Obesity
Severe obesity is a disease in which there are many contributing factors for each individual. These factors interact in a complex fashion that isn’t always understood. We do know that when severe obesity is treated with bariatric surgery performed by an experienced bariatric surgeon and multidisciplinary team, patients can achieve long-term weight loss and resolution of their obesity-related conditions.
Research shows that severely obese individuals may be pre-programmed in their DNA to store excess fat. In severely obese patients, the normal set point for their weight may default to an obese and weight. This is why morbidly obese individuals are unable to maintain weight loss with diet and exercise alone. When a severely obese patient has the tool of bariatric surgery, it allows them to combat their inherent genetic predisposition and obtain and maintain a healthy weight.
The disease of morbid obesity is an epidemic. In today’s world with the hectic lifestyles we live, many people do not make time to cook healthy meals and there is little time for exercise. Fast food restaurants are on every corner and while they can be inexpensive and convenient, the high fat, high calorie menu is extremely harmful to our health.
Our metabolism slows as we age. Even if we eat the same amount of food, we gain weight! Additionally, if you diet and exercise and lose weight you would think that your metabolism would improve and you would burn more calories. Unfortunately, this is not the case. When we lose weight, our metabolism slows as much as 25% making it harder to lose more weight. This is inherently unfair, but it is a biologic truth. Severely obese patients need the tool of bariatric surgery in order to complete the job of obtaining significant weight loss and maintaining it!
We need food. Unfortunately, we do not only eat because we are hungry. Eating is a also social event for us. And, we sometimes may also use food for other reasons, such as to make us feel better or to accompany our favorite show. Occasionally this is okay, but when it becomes a habit it can lead to significant weight gain and obesity. Habits are hard to break. The experts at New Life Center can help you break those unhealthy habits and get started on the road to your New Life!
There are a number of medical causes of obesity as well. These are treatable without surgery and need to be identified if present. If you have not been evaluated for them call the New Life office for an appointment for a thorough evaluation.
Adult Onset Diabetes
Adult onset or type II diabetes develops in this severely obese patient because their cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. When the body’s tissues become resistant to insulin the blood sugar becomes elevated causing damage to the tissue.
High blood pressure develops in this severely obese patient because the resistance in the patient’s circulatory system increases as their body mass increases. This increased resistance requires an increase of pressure in order to circulate the blood throughout the body resulting in hypertension. The body’s tissues including the heart, brain and kidneys are not capable of handling the excessively high pressures and become damaged leading to heart attacks, strokes and renal failure.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
When the patient becomes severely obese excess fatty tissue is often distributed in the soft tissues including the neck. This excess of adipose tissues causes the soft tissues of the upper airway to collapse when relaxed during sleep. The tissues essentially fall into the upper airway obstructing the flow of air. This results and dangerously low blood oxygen levels. Another consequence is that the patient may stop breathing for extended periods of time resulting in a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood. The patient is unable to sleep and is chronically fatigued and exhausted.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
Heartburn is a consequence of severe obesity because of the increased abdominal pressure. Increased pressure in the abdomen causes the acid contents in the stomach to reflux into the esophagus. The esophagus is not able to tolerate acids and therefore becomes inflamed and it may ulcerate, bleed or form excessive scar tissue preventing the passage of food. Rarely esophageal cancer can result.
Arthritis develops in the major weight-bearing joints such as the hips knees and ankles in a severely obese patient because of the increased pressure on them. This causes excessive wear and tear on the delicate cartilage lining wearing the joint and out prematurely.
Depression is a severe debilitating disease caused by obesity when neuron-hormonal changes occur in the brain. When a patient is depressed because of obesity, they often have excellent results resolving their depression with bariatric surgery.
The severely obese female patient’s adipose tissue alters the body’s sex hormone levels in a way that prevents normal ovulation. As the patient loses weight their body’s hormones normalize allowing ovulation to occur and fertility rates increase dramatically after bariatric surgery.
The severely obese have a higher risk of developing cancer, and their chance of dying from cancer is higher as well. Losing weight has been shown to decrease both the development and death from cancer of all types.