1. Why is it so important to be healthy in today’s age?

Obesity is currently the third most common cause of death in America, with almost 90 percent of those deaths caused by Type 2 Adult Onset Diabetes. Many of our common health issues including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are also due to obesity. Not only do these obesity related problems negative affect our health, but this also drives up our health care costs for everyone.

2. How does fat affect our bodies?

Excess fat not only affects the way we look but can also limit us physically. Most people are unaware that fat is actually an inflammatory process that causes chronic irritation. The chemical produced by fat cells can increase the risk of diseases and even cancer.

3. Can you offer examples of what obesity-related illnesses that some of your patients have lessened or have completely rid themselves of after losing the weight?

After losing weight many of my patients have lessened or rid themselves of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, acid reflux, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, urinary incontinence, irregular menstrual periods, infertility, depression, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis of back and joints the list goes on and on! The bottom line is that patients will see a huge improvement in all aspects of their health once they reach a healthy weight.

4. What’s the best way to lose weight?

First of all, you need to reduce the volume of food eaten and start to exercise three times weekly. A diet can be accomplished in a healthy way by concentrating on eating lean meats, colored veggies, and fruit while eliminate white foods (potatoes, rice, pasta and bread), junk food, soft drinks, and desserts. What’s the worst way to lose weight? Starvation, skipping meals, or liquid low calorie diets.

5. Are separate goals helpful in achieving your weight loss goals?

Keep your goal realistic. Healthy weight loss is 1-1.5 pounds per week. Any more than that by dieting is simply losing water weight which will be regained in a few weeks.

Surgery Questions

6. At what point does weight loss surgery become an option for overweight people?

When they become 100 pounds overweight or achieve a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 35 and start developing health issues as a result of their obesity. When patients reach this point, their life expectancy is reduced by 6-8 years. As the weight increases to a BMI of 60 or greater the average life expectancy is reduced to 56 years.

7. Are there surgical weight loss procedures recommended for some and not others?

Yes. Not all patients qualify for weight loss surgery. An experienced and board certified weight loss surgeon (Bariatric Surgeon) can assist in the decision.

8. Can you give us a quick break down of the different surgical procedures? (include how each result in weight loss, healing time, if multiple procedures are needed, etc)

There are three common weight loss operations. The first is Laparoscopic gastric bypass which requires a 2 day hospital stay and one week recovery. Weight loss is 75 percent of the excess weight and stays off an average of 90 percent long term. It has the greatest success but involves cutting and stapling the stomach and small bowel, resulting in a reduction of the volume of food and the absorption of calories one can intake.

The second is the Laparoscopic adjustable gastric band procedure which requires an overnight stay and one week recovery, but unlike the previous procedure, doesn’t involve stapling the stomach. It results in reducing or restricting food intake so patients fill up quickly. There is a risk of reoperation in up to 25 percent of patients due to problems with the silastic band slipping out of position on the stomach. The procedure results in a loss of about 50 percent of excess weight, however the failure rate can be as high as 5 percent of patients not losing any weight.

The third and newest procedure is the Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy and involves the permanent removal of 90 percent of the stomach. It restricts the intake of food like the Lap-band, but doesn’t require a plastic band so there are fewer reoperations. (Although it does carry the risk of leaks and infection similar to gastric bypass). It requires 1-2 days in the hospital and 1 week recovery.

9. What do future patients have to keep in mind and/or consider if they are looking into weight loss procedures?

While new medications for weight loss are in development, they will only result in 10 to 20 percent weight loss. New, less invasive surgery procedures are also being tried experimentally to reduce risk while improving outcomes. Examples of these trial procedures include performing the traditional operation totally through the mouth with a gastroscope to avoid incisions, implantation of gastric pacemakers and stimulation with electrical impulses to reduce appetite, plastic sleeves inserted in the stomach to block absorption of some calories temporarily, and temporary balloons inserted in the stomach to reduce food intake and give the feeling of fullness.

10. Many people think that after surgery, they have nothing more to worry about. What is the recommended post-surgery lifestyle?

Weight loss surgery requires a dramatic change in lifestyle and in patients approach to food and exercise. Patients must make better, healthier food choices and eat small meals throughout the day to keep the metabolism steady. Exercise three times weekly is also necessary to maximize weight loss. There is no such thing as an easy way out or a free lunch.

More questions added:

11. Why is it important to explore complements/alternatives to traditional
Western medicine today?

The practice of medicine is both a science and an art, and there is much to be learned from the appreciation and study of alternative approaches to health. No country or people have a monopoly on medicine and each group brings their own unique perspective. Western medicine, for example, tends to focus on science and ignores or minimizes spirituality. Examination of alternative medicine may offer patients therapy which complements traditional western approaches.

JK Champion MD