Even with the tremendous emphasis on diet, fitness, and nutrition in our society, the problem of obesity is increasing throughout the western world.
According to most experts, the cause of obesity is quite simple. A person gains weight when he or she consumes more calories than they burn. This involves both diet and level of physical activity, because it is primarily physical activity that burns off calories that are taken in through food.
Recent statistics for various countries around the world suggest that obesity has reached epidemic levels in the worst offending countries. By definition, a person is considered “obese” when his or her health is endangered by the amount of fat stored in his or her body.
According to a recent study, the percentage of people 15+ years old who are technically obese has reached 30.6% for the U.S.A., 24.2% in Mexico, and 22.4% in the U.K. European countries fare a bit better.
That means, almost 1 in 3 Americans are so severely overweight that they have health problems because of it.
** What happens when diets and exercise don’t work?
In spite of all the hype surrounding diet, exercise, and nutrition as solutions to the problem of obesity, millions of people cannot make these solutions work. They simply don’t have the will power, discipline, or motivation to enter into a long term program that requires a radical change of lifestyle.
The consequences for people who are overweight or obese are just as serious for those who cannot get their weight down using these traditional techniques. They are just as susceptible to heart disease, strokes, and diabetes. So it is certainly in their interest to find a “non-traditional” solution that will help them lose weight.
** Gastric Surgery works for some people
One interesting new technique for helping people lose weight involves various “gastric surgery” procedures. The object of most gastric surgery is to limit the amount of food passing through the stomach and intestine. It normally does this by constricting the size of the stomach so it is filled much faster, food moves through more slowly, and therefore the ability and desire to eat is significantly reduced.
One of the most successful and least invasive is the technique called Lap-Band Surgery, which involves using a device called the LAP-BAND Adjustable Gastric Banding System. The most important component of the LAP-BAND Systems is an adjustable band that circles the stomach about two thirds of the way up from the bottom.
The band is usually a silicone elastomer hollow ring filled with saline which is placed around the upper part of the stomach. This creates a new small stomach pouch in the top portion of the stomach. The larger part of the stomach is below the band. This way, the primary food storage area in the stomach is reduced.
Food in the stomach can still pass from the upper part of the stomach to the lower part for proper digestion, but the constriction makes this process go much more slowly. So a person who has had this procedure done can only eat enough to fill the primary stomach area above the band before feeling full. The net result is that he or she eats less, and gradually loses weight.
** Safest and least invasive
The Lap-band procedure is normally done using laparascopic surgery which is considered minimally invasive. With laparascopic surgery a few small incisions are made in the abdominal wall, and then narrow hollow tubes are inserted into the abdomen. The surgical tools and a small camera are then inserted through the tubes.
A small tunnel is made behind the top of the stomach. Then the band is pulled around the stomach to form a ring. The band is then locked in place with a simple locking device which holds the band securely in a circle around the stomach.
The band is then connected by a tube to a reservoir placed just beneath the skin. This allows the doctor to make adjustments to the band as the effectiveness of the system is monitored.
The size of the band controls the size of the passage (stoma) between the upper and lower portions of the stomach. The surgeon in charge of the procedure can later control the amount of saline in the band by adding solution to the reservoir or drawing it off through the skin with a fine needle. These adjustments can be done quickly and without further surgery.
** An effective alternative for combating obesity
In a clinical trial conducted in the U.S., 61% of lap-band surgery patients lost at least 25% of their excess weight. 52% lost at least 33% of their excess weight. 22% lost at least 50% of their excess weight, and 10% lost at least 75% of their excess weight.
This technique is not for everyone, but it is a very promising alternative to traditional diet and fitness regimes. The lap-band procedure requires a significant change in eating habits, and it takes time — doctors recommend a program of gradual weight loss over 18 months to 3 years.
But the payoff is significantly reduced weight and a longer, healthier life for many thousands of people.