There's an epidemic haunting California: the epidemic of obesity. In the Golden State alone, more than 56% of the population is overweight or obese, with the prevalence of obesity having risen markedly in California over the past decade. According to the California Department of Public Health:
"This epidemic affects virtually all age, income, educational, ethnic
and disability groupsâ€¦ [and] 22 percent of California children and
teens [are] overweightâ€¦ Rates of chronic disease and disability
associated with poor diet and inactivity continue to escalate year after
SOURCE: California Obesity Prevention Plan: A Vision for Tomorrow,
Strategic Actions for Today,
And it's spreading. Nationwide, obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
What does the epidemic of obesity mean for Californians? State health
officials warn that those above their healthy weight may fall victim to
other life-threatening illnesses, called co-morbidities, such as heart
disease, high blood pressure, and Type II diabetes.
The costs and consequences associated with obesity constitute a greater
threat to the overall health of Californians than do tobacco use or
alcohol abuse. And, treating these conditions creates a significant
economic burden for the state.
"California's costs attributable to physical inactivity, obesity and
overweight [individuals] in 2005 were projected to reach $28 billion for
health care and lost work productivityâ€¦ The public sector finances
nearly half of all adult obesity medical spending through Medicaid and
It's obvious that the people of California need to do something to control the obesity epidemic.
What to Do?
Living with obesity is a struggle, and those who suffer from this
condition often make dozens, if not hundreds of attempts to lose their
excess weight through diet and exercise programs, weight-loss pills,
hypnosis, and other means. Some sufferers lose significant weight in
this fashion, but many quickly regain it after they suspend their weight
Fortunately, another option exists: weight loss surgery. Surgical
Bariatric surgery has been proven to help ease or even completely
resolve obesity-related health problems for individuals with a BMI of at
least 35. It can also help obese individuals who have no co-morbidities
reach their ideal weight and reduce their chances of developing
weight-related health issues in the future.
About Weight Loss Surgery
Most weight loss surgery procedures are performed laparoscopically under
general anesthesia, although some are performed through open surgery.
Malabsorptive procedures involve changes to the patient's intestinal
tract, which in turn changes the way the body absorbs calories and
nutrients. Restrictive procedures, such as the Lap-band procedure,
create a smaller stomach pouch that limits the amount of food a person
can eat and helps them feel full faster. Combination procedures, like
the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, also create a small stomach pouch in
addition to altering the intestinal tract.
Not a Magic Cure
Weight loss surgery can be a true lifesaver - but it's no magic cure for
the epidemic of obesity in California. If a patients fails to adopt a
healthy lifestyle after surgery, he or she may regain any weight lost.
And, of course, bariatric surgery presents the possibility of major
postoperative complications, including anemia, ulcers, internal hernias,
calcium deficiencies, and gallstones.
Those considering surgical treatment for obesity should weigh the risks
and possible outcomes of these procedures carefully in consultation with
their physician before making a decision.