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The World Health Organisation (WHO) released a report on worldwide overweight & obesity in 2016 & it indicated –

  • 41 million children under the age of 5 were obese.
  • Over 340 million children & adolescents between 5-19 years fell into the bracket of overweight & obesity.
  • More than 1.9 billion adults were overweight & 650 million were obese.

The figures have dramatically escalated over the last 30 years. Overweight & obesity, as per the report, affects people of all age groups. Doctors worldwide claim that modest weight loss can benefit overall health. Karen Hillenmeyer, Program Director at Center for Weight Loss Surgery at Saint Joseph East, USA, opines, “Obesity is a disease that affects every system in the body. When an individual can’t lose weight through diet and exercise alone, weight loss surgery is often an option to put them on a path to a healthier lifestyle.” Let us look at how bariatric surgery can improve the overall health condition.

1. Heart Health –

A team of British researchers have found out that obesity directly damages the blood vessels. The body fat surrounding the arteries tend to secrete high amounts of a protein called WNT5A. Patients with higher levels of WNT5A levels show a faster progression of plaque build-up in their arteries which can spark a heart attack or a stroke. There has been a steep increase in cholesterol levels, blood pressure & diabetic conditions in obese people of all age groups. Cardiologists say there are evident signs of coronary artery disease & other cardiac issues even in children & young adults. Weight-loss surgery remarkably reduces the risk of heart diseases. By reversing the cholesterol & blood pressure levels, the procedure plays a crucial role in improving heart health.

2. Improved Diabetic Conditions –

Obesity causes increased levels of fatty acids & inflammation, leading to insulin resistance, the cause for type II diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations, blindness among adults, heart diseases, pregnancy complications etc. About 60-80% of patients have experienced a dramatic improvement in diabetic symptoms after bariatric surgery. The University of Pittsburgh researched on 61 obese women with diabetes. All of these were to undergo some form of weight loss surgery or an intensive lifestyle change. After the surgery, on an average, the recipients of the surgery lost most of the visceral fat, one that contributes to blood sugar processing issues than the ones who took up intensive lifestyle changes. The surgery lowered blood sugar levels. At 3 years, 65% of the gastric bypass group & 33% of the gastric band group no more needed blood sugar-lowering drugs & responded better than the ‘lifestyle change’ group. The study concluded that patients who underwent bariatric surgery showed better results at 3 years than the ones with intensive lifestyle change treatment.

3. Fatty Liver Disease –

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is one of the leading causes of chronic liver disease worldwide. Morbid obesity is closely linked to the development of this disease & weight loss is considered the most reliable treatment. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a sub-category of this condition & bariatric surgery is shown to slow down or reverse the progression of NASH.

4. Joint Pain & Osteoarthritis –

For every 5 kg weight gain, there is a 36% increased risk of osteoarthritis. It is a chronic joint disease that cracks-up the cartilage in the neck, lower back, knees, fingers, hips & shoulders. Case studies show that bariatric surgery provides phenomenal relief as quickly as three months after the surgery.

5. Relief From Obstructive Sleep Apnea –

This condition can cause a person to choke, snort or gasp during his sleep. It might impair the ability to reach deep, restful phases of sleep. Obesity strikingly increases the risk of sleep apnea. The fat deposits around the upper airway can obstruct breathing. A study reported that there was a significant improvement of this condition, in about 79% of patients who had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, 77% who underwent lap band surgery & 86% who had a sleeve gastrectomy.

6. Averts Cancers of Various Kinds –

Obesity is known to increase the risk of several types of cancer, including, cancers of colon, gallbladder, endometrium, breast & pancreas. Bariatric surgery largely reduces the risk of developing new cancers.

7. PCOS & Infertility –

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a prevalent endocrine disorder in women. The disease is a vicious cycle where people with PCOS tend to gain heavyweight, and on the other hand, overweight/obesity could cause PCOS. Reports indicate that women who undergo Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and achieve successful weight loss have restored menstrual cycles and see considerable improvement in other symptoms of PCOS. Studies from Italy, Canada & USA show that bariatric surgery also significantly improves the fertility rate.

8. Other Health Conditions –

Other medical conditions like metabolic syndrome, diseases of the gall bladder, hyperlipidaemia, etc., are seen to ease off after the surgery.

9. Better Mental Health & Quality of Life –

Obesity can lead to overall ill health which in turn can result in post-traumatic stress, anxiety & depression. Apart from alleviating other body ailments, bariatric surgery contributes to body satisfaction, improved self-image, better mobility & social interaction thereby improving the overall quality of life. In the words of Rogers, an obese patient, “Before I decided to have surgery, everyday tasks were becoming a struggle – like getting dressed, tying my shoes and going out to eat. My only regret is waiting so long to have surgery. There’s not a single aspect of life that isn’t better because of my weight loss.” As we can see, weight loss is just one of the many benefits of bariatric surgery. Consult a trusted bariatric surgeon today and begin your journey towards a healthy life.