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From: David J. Lee, MD
Received: Aug. 23
The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) believes the recent decision by the American Medical Association (AMA), the nation’s largest physician group, to officially recognize obesity as a disease is a watershed moment that will help improve access to medically necessary and scientifically proven prevention and treatment strategies and remove the societal stigma attached to obesity. (Excerpt from ASMBS news release dated June 19, 2013)
At the Bariatric Center at Columbus Regional Health, we believe that obesity is a lifelong progressive disease that causes many serious secondary health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure, and is not just a cosmetic problem or character flaw.
Obesity affects many Americans. Approximately one-third of our U.S. population is obese, and this number has steadily increased over the past 20 years. A large number of our health care dollars are spent on obesity-related illnesses.
Obesity is not easily treated with the conventional methods of diet and exercise alone. While there are medications marketed for the purposes of weight loss, these are beneficial only when they are taken for a few months at a time. Once these medications are stopped, weight re-gain usually occurs.
Bariatric surgery is the only proven method to help obese individuals achieve successful weight loss. Used as a “tool” and not a “cure,” surgery allows patients to eat less and feel satisfied. Sustained weight loss still requires compliance to diet and exercise to achieve a healthy weight and reduction and/or resolution of co-morbid illnesses. Since 2004, we have performed more than 600 weight-loss surgeries at the Bariatric Center at Columbus Regional Health.
When considering bariatric surgery, one of the most common concerns is how to pay for it. A growing trend is for health insurance companies to drop coverage for bariatric surgery. For those whose health insurance won’t cover the surgery and associated costs, it can be a life sentence — to a life that is less active, less fulfilled and shorter.
The research we’ve gathered proves the benefits of being healthier far outweigh the cost of bariatric surgery — both financially and in terms of a more stable, productive life. As medical advances have been made, the way groups and individuals view weight loss surgery has shifted dramatically.
Based on the recent decision of the AMA, we are confident that more medical prevention and treatment options will now open up for those who desire to live a healthy lifestyle.
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