By Deana M. Newman
Since the mid-seventies, the nation’s overweight and obesity epidemic has significantly increased in both adult and adolescent populations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the occurrence of obesity in adults aged 20 to 74 years of age increased from 15% in 1976 to 32.9% in 2004, while the occurrence of obesity in children between the ages of 2 to 19years has more than doubled. Since 1991, Michigan has consistently ranked as one of four states with obesity rates higher than the rest of the nation.
Overweight is defined by the American Obesity Association as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 and obesity is equivalent to having a BMI of 30 or greater. Being overweight or obese carries a long list of risks for additional disorders and diseases: diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, breathing problems, depression, stroke, and premature death to name a few. Fortunately, being overweight or obese is preventable and manageable through joining weight management programs, changing daily eating habits and increasing physical exercise. Bariatric surgery is also an option for those who have attempted weight loss without success.
Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass is the current “gold-standard” for bariatric procedures which involves decreasing the size of the stomach and bypassing part of the small intestine. Typically, the procedure is performed on individuals with a BMI of 40 or who are at least 100 pounds overweight. However, before considering the procedure it is important to discuss your options and potential candidacy with a primary care physician. As with any surgical procedure, minor or major complications may occur. Success of the treatment is dependent upon having realistic goals, determination, and a self-motivation to maintain a healthier lifestyle.
The Sparrow Weight Management Center has created an on-line Body Mass Index calculator for the public’s use at www.sparrowweightmanagement.org, under bariatric surgery. Knowing and understanding your current weight status takes you one step closer towards the most important occupation in the world…being an active advocate of better health.
Deana Newman is currently a Cardiovascular Perfusionist at Sparrow Hospital and a Master’s candidate in Health Communications at Michigan State University.