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Bariatric Surgery Benefits May Outweigh Risks

Weight Loss Procedure Cuts Heart Risks
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Calculating Body Mass Index

BMI can be calculated easily online.

For example, a sedentary 6-foot-tall man who weighs 295 pounds has a BMI of 40. A 5-foot-4 inch tall woman weighing 235 pounds has a BMI of 40.3.

“Substantial long-term successes from lifestyle modifications and drug therapy have been disappointing,” he says, “making it important to look at surgical options.”

Poirier and others on the statement-writing committee reviewed scientific literature and found that bariatric surgery can lead to significant weight loss and general improvements in health.

Benefits of Weight Loss

According to the statement, the potential benefits of weight loss include reducing high cholesterol, the risk of liver disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, and cardiovascular problems.

The statement points out that bariatric surgery has risks, including death, as well as long-term post-surgical lifestyle implications. It says people who undergo bariatric surgery must make lifelong behavior changes, such as supplement use, and keep in contact with doctors.

“Bariatric procedures are generally safe,” Poirier says. “However, this is not a benign surgery. At the moment, bariatric surgery should be reserved for patients who can undergo surgery safely, have severe obesity, and have failed attempts at medical therapy.”

He says more research on bariatric surgery in adults and youths is needed, especially because the severely obese adolescent population continues to increase with no effective sustainable treatments available.

Mitchell Roslin, chief of obesity surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, who was not involved in the formulation of the statement, says in a statement that information in the new pronouncement is “essential for all severely obese” people to understand.

“Data has been accumulated that shows that obesity surgery reduces the risk of major cardiac events by approximately 50%,” he says. “Rather than treat the various risk factors, weight loss surgery can treat the diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension with a single procedure.”

“Yet, we struggle to get approvals,” Roslin says. “If prevention is the goal, there is no better preventive tool for heart disease than a well-done bariatric procedure in a severely obese individual.”

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