Is Obesity a Disease?

Whether or not obesity should be considered a disease is a matter of debate. In 2013, the American Medical Association, the nation’s largest group of physicians, voted to recognize obesity as a disease. The decision was controversial to say the least.

The decision was meant to improve access to weight loss treatment, reduce the stigma of obesity, and underscore the fact that obesity is not always a matter of self-control. Others argue that calling obesity a disease automatically categorizes a large portion of Americans as “sick,” when they may not be. Instead, critics say obesity should be considered a risk factor for many diseases, but not a disease in and of itself.

Experts on one side of the issue say obesity, like alcoholism, depression, and anxiety, is a disease. There are definite medical patterns: hormone imbalances, neurotransmitter deficiencies, and nutritional exhaustion that all contribute to obesity. Many patients that are obese have underlying medical issues that need to be addressed.

On the other hand, with more than one third of the American population presently classified as obese, it is clear that there are many causes for excessive fat accumulation like genetic issues, too little exercise/physical activity, too much food, inappropriate food selection, eating while watching television, etc. In many cases, obesity is the result of a specific lifestyle which can typically be reversed (at least in the short term) by adopting a different lifestyle.

Obesity increases the risk of developing a number of serious health conditions, including:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Sleep apnea
  • Gallstones
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Infertility or irregular periods

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says people should aim to make long-term changes, such as eating healthy on a regular basis, and boosting daily physical activity. Even small amounts of weight loss — such as 5% to 10% of your total body weight – can have health benefits.

For some, obesity as a disease invalidates the importance of discipline, proper nutrition, and exercise and enables individuals with obesity to escape responsibility. For others, obesity as a disease is a bridge to additional research, coordination of effective treatment, and increased resources for weight loss.

Ultimately, obesity is a complex entity that can have many causes; some are endocrine (like thyroid malfunction or hyperfunctioning of the adrenal gland or Cushing’s syndrome), but often the condition is from a combination of inactivity and overeating. For others, there are genetic factors that produce a tendency to be overweight even with the consumption of what would be for most people an appropriate number of calories. Whether the causes are hormonal, genetic, or reside in the brain is often difficult to determine.

If you’re in the Las Vegas area and looking for treatment for obesity and the life-threatening conditions that often accompany it, schedule an appointment with VIP Surg. Our experts can help you find the right treatment for your unique situation.

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Eliminate the Need for Potentially Harmful Acid Reflux Meds

Nearly 20 percent of Americans suffer from regular bouts of heartburn, acid indigestion and other symptoms of chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a severe, chronic acid reflux condition in which acidic stomach contents back up into your esophagus. The muscle connecting the stomach to the esophagus is weak or relaxes abnormally, allowing this abnormal movement.

Over the last 20 years, the most popular and effective GERD medications on the market, both prescription and over-the-counter, have been a class of drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). However, long-term use of PPIs have been found to harmful to the body.

Over the last few years, there have been many studies looking at whether long-term PPI use contributes to gut infections, bone loss, chronic kidney disease,  and even dementia. As a precaution, experts recommend that people who have been taking more than one PPI a day for many years seek a medical re-evaluation to see if they still need and are benefitting from the medication.

Here are a few classic symptoms of GERD to look out for:

  • Heartburn: For many people, acid indigestion (known as heartburn) is more than an occasional annoyance after eating a greasy meal. Research shows that more than 60 million people suffer from this burning sensation that can extend from the breastbone to the neck and throat. Heartburn sufferers may also experience a sore throat, hoarseness, chronic cough, asthma, or a feeling of a lump in the throat. Because there can be chest pain associated with GERD, heartburn sometimes is mistaken for heart attack.
  • Regurgitation: a sensation of acid backed up in the esophagus. Other common symptoms are: feeling that food may be trapped behind the breastbone, heartburn or a burning pain in the chest (under the breastbone), increased by bending, stooping, lying down, or eating, more likely or worse at night, relieved by antacids, nausea after eating

Untreated GERD can damage the food pipe, and contribute to Barrett’s esophagus, a risk anatomy-demon-3factor for esophageal cancer, so it’s important not to ignore.

Fortunately, there is a simple, minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure that starts to have a positive impact from day one and eliminates the need for medications for GERD.  LINX is easy to understand and love because it is a simple, quarter-sized device that does exactly what your failing Reflux Barrier is supposed to do — prevent stomach acid from entering your esophagus. LINX is designed to start working the moment the device is implanted.

If you’re interested in learning more, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shawn Tsuda. He can help you decide if LINX is a good option for you.

Heart Health after Bariatric Surgery

Obesity has become a global pandemic affecting virtually all ages and socioeconomic groups and is majorly contributing to the international burden of chronic illness, including diseases of the cardiovascular system. Traditional treatments to achieve weight loss such as diet, lifestyle, and behavioral therapy have proven relatively ineffective in treating obesity and associated cardiovascular risk factors in the long term. These treatments have been specifically ineffective on the morbidly obese subgroup of patients.

Weight-loss (bariatric) surgery can be a useful tool to help break the vicious weight gain cycle and achieve long term weight loss and improved overall quality of health and life.

  • Bariatric surgery has been shown to help improve or resolve many obesity-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more.
  • Bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, works by changing the anatomy of the gastrointestinal tract or by causing different physiologic changes in the body that change energy balance and fat metabolism. It is important to remember, however, that bariatric surgery is a “tool.” Weight loss success also depends on many other important factors, such as nutrition, exercise, behavior modification, and more.
  • Bariatric surgery may improve a number of conditions and hormonal changes to reverse the progression of obesity. Studies find that more than 90 percent of bariatric patients are able to maintain a long-term weight loss of 50 percent excess body weight or more.

Most, if not all, of the cardiovascular risk factors associated with obesity are improved or even resolved after bariatric surgery. The amount of improvement in cardiac risk factors is generally proportional to the amount of weight lost. The degree of weight loss varies with different bariatric procedures.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and want to learn more about your bariatric surgery options, schedule an appointment with Dr. Shawn Tsuda. He and his team of experts can help you find the right treatment for you.
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Fighting GERD with the LINX Reflux Management System

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, aka GERD, is a chronic, often progressive disease resulting from a weak lower esophageal sphincter (LES). One in three adults suffer from heartburn and associated symptoms, meaning that approximately seven million people in the United States have some symptoms of GERD. Many take medications that mask or control symptoms, but when medicine doesn’t work, surgery may be the answer.

The LINX® Reflux Management System augments the weak LES, restoring the body’s anatomy-demon-1natural barrier to reflux. In other words, LINX provides a mechanical answer to what boils down to a mechanical problem.

The LINX System is a small flexible band of interlinked titanium beads with magnetic cores. The magnetic attraction between the beads is intended to help the LES resist opening to gastric pressures, preventing reflux from the stomach into the esophagus.

LINX is designed so that swallowing forces temporarily break the magnetic bond, allowing food and liquid to pass normally into the stomach. Magnetic attraction of the device is designed to close the LES immediately after swallowing, restoring the body’s natural barrier to reflux.

The LINX System is placed around the esophagus just above the stomach using a surgical technique called laparoscopy. Patients are placed under general anesthesia during the procedure. The LINX System does not require any anatomic alteration of the stomach. This procedure is so minimally invasive that most patients go home the day after surgery and resume a normal diet.

It is important to take your heartburn symptoms seriously because it is a signal from your body that something is wrong. Since reflux disease is a progressive chronic condition, you need to make the necessary changes before you have to schedule a surgery.

If you live in the Las Vegas area, and you believe you might benefit from the LINX procedure, contact Dr. Shawn Tsuda for a consultation. He and his expert team will help you find the proper treatment for this serious, life-altering condition.