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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High Blood Pressure: Do these Things Now to Prevent Future Problems

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries, and it’s normal for it to rise and fall throughout the day. However, when blood pressure stays elevated over time, it’s called hypertension (aka high blood pressure). High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard and contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are the first- and third-leading causes of death among Americans. High blood pressure also can result in other conditions, such as congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness. About two-thirds of people over age 65 have high blood pressure. This means that even if you don’t have high blood pressure now, you are likely to develop it in the future unless you adopt a healthy lifestyle.

  • Maintain a healthy weight – Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. In fact, your blood pressure rises as your body weight increases. Losing even 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure, and losing weight has the biggest effect on those who are overweight and already have hypertension.
  • Be physically active – Being physically active is one of the most important things you can do to prevent or control high blood pressure. Try to engage in physical activity for a total of 30 minutes on most days of the week. You can do this by combining everyday chores with moderate-level sporting activities, such as walking.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan – What you eat affects your chances of getting hightape-403593__340 blood pressure. A healthy eating plan can both reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and lower a blood pressure that is already too high. An important part of healthy eating is choosing foods that are low in salt (sodium chloride) and other forms of sodium. Using less sodium is key to keeping blood pressure at a healthy level. Use spices, garlic, and onions to add flavor to your meals without adding more sodium. Set up a healthy eating plan with foods low in saturated fat,total fat, and cholesterol, and high in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation – In addition to raising blood pressure, too much alcohol can add unneeded calories to your diet. If you drink alcoholic beverages, have only a moderate amount—one drink a day for women, two drinks a day for men.
  • Take prescribed medications as directed – If you need drugs to help lower your
    lood pressure, you still should follow the lifestyle changes mentioned above. Use notes and other reminders to help you remember to take your meds. Ask your family to help you with reminder phone calls and messages.

These are just a few of the relatively easy things you can do to help lower or prevent hypertension. Ultimately, keeping blood pressure at healthy levels can be quite difficult – especially if you are dealing with other severe health problems such as obesity and the issues that often accompany it. If you live in the Las Vegas area and are considering weight-loss surgery, schedule a consultation with VIP SURG. We can help find the right treatment for you.

Weight-loss Surgery Myths – Setting the Record Straight

If you are considering bariatric surgery, you’ve probably heard many of the popular myths. These run the gamut from horror stories to fairy tales. In reality, these procedures are neither as awful nor as fantastic as they’re made out to be. Here are some facts to help set the record straight about weight-loss surgery (WLS).

Myth: All bariatric surgery involves stomach stapling.

  • There are many different types of gastrointestinal procedures for weight loss, some of which reduce the functioning size of the stomach and others that bypass parts of the digestive tract, reducing absorption of calories and nutrients. Different types of surgeries offer different results, and some are more suitable for particular people than others.

Myth: People who get weight-loss surgery don’t have willpower.

  • Many bariatric surgery patients have struggled for years, pushing themselves to extremes to lose weight and keep it off. They understand that surgery is a final option when everything else has failed. The surgery, recovery and lifestyle changes that accompany WLS require both courage and determination on the part of the patient.

Myth:  Bariatric surgery is only for the morbidly obese.

  • Obesity is only one of the criteria that qualify patients for surgery. Overweight patients may also be candidates if they have one or more health problems that might be reduced or alleviated by weight loss such as diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, arthritis, and high cholesterol.

Myth: Bariatric surgery is extremely dangerous.

  • Any type of surgery has associated risks, such as complications or even death. However, a number of recent advances have helped to minimize risks. Surgeries are usually done laparoscopically with mini-incisions that result in faster healing, less pain, and less scarring.

Myth: You will finally be skinny after bariatric surgery.

  • Losing just 50% of excess weight and keeping it off is considered a success story. That’s still going to be overweight in the eyes of most people. Plus, your skin isn’t necessarily going to tone up and be free of drooping after weight loss. However, the health benefits in reducing weight-related problems like sleep apnea often occur even in patients who don’t lose all the weight they would like.

Myth: Weight loss from bariatric surgery is permanent.

  • Unfortunately, even this one is not true. In fact, some regain is likely. Part of this is simply the body adjusting and learning to store fat even on a very restricted diet. At other times, a patient’s failure to adhere to the post-surgery lifestyle recommendations plays a role.

Myth: You should only have WLS if you are done having kids.

  • It isn’t safe to get pregnant in the first year or two after bariatric surgery. You simply won’t be getting enough nutrients to support a growing fetus. After you are done losing weight (if you are taking all your supplements and monitoring your health carefully), getting pregnant should be okay. This is something to discuss with your bariatric surgeon.

Myth: After bariatric surgery, you won’t be able to eat anything that tastes good.

  • Patients who undergo gastric bypass may need to avoid very sweet foods because it can cause side effects like dizziness and nausea. Patients who have a duodenal switch typically need to keep fatty foods to a minimum. However, many patients can and do eat their favorite foods after they recover from surgery. They just eat very small portions.

Myth: You can never be far from a bathroom after WLS.

  • In the aftermath of surgery, you may find yourself having some “emergency” bathroom visits. However, symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting should subside over time as you get a better handle on how your altered digestive system responds to food.

Myth: Bariatric surgery is reversible.

  • Gastric banding is usually reversible. That’s because the stomach and intestines are not cut or stapled with this surgery. Gastric bypass may be reversible, but this is a very involved surgery. It’s more difficult to put everything back where it was, and there is a risk that the revision won’t restore normal function. Sleeve gastrectomy and duodenal switch entail actual removal of part of the stomach without reattaching it lower on the intestine. This type of surgery is not reversible.

Surgery for weight reduction is not a miracle procedure. Weight loss surgery is designed to assist the morbidly obese in developing a healthier lifestyle. A surgical weight loss operation is a useful tool for weight loss, but it is a surgical procedure that requires a substantial lifelong commitment. The surgery alone will not help someone lose weight and keep it off. The patient must change eating and exercise habits. Without changes to the daily pattern of eating and activity, the patient is likely to regain the weight over time.