Weight Loss Surgery Makes Life Better for Obese
Gastric Bypass Boosts Mental, Physical Health -- but Complications Common
Yet Santry's data reveal a major disparity. Obesity is most common in people
with low incomes. Yet weight loss surgery is most common among higher-income
"There is still the widespread perception that instead of a disease,
obesity is just people's misbehavior and they are not deserving of
treatment," Wolfe says. "An unresolved question is to what extent does
cost justify withholding access to a treatment. If it is the best treatment for
a medical condition, the cost is a problem -- but we cannot deny patients just
because it is expensive to give them the proper treatment for their condition.
How to sort that out in the long term is a question."
Zingmond says it's a question we'll have to answer in a hurry. He notes that
in California alone, as many as a million people qualify for weight loss
"Multiply by 10 or 15 for the whole country," he says. "We need,
as a society, to address this rationally. Can we send everyone who is
overweight to surgery? That is the debate we are having now. Each state
Medicare program is making these decisions. California does allow it -- and the
wait list is long."