Minnesota is known as “the fittest state in the nation”. Our state’s fine climate, its friendly folks, and its famous hot-dish hospitality combine to keep the overall health of Minnesotans well above the national norm. Sadly, however, we are below par in one important area of health: obesity. In fact, here in the North Star State, almost 61% of the population is overweight or obese.
And while looking bad is a consequence of obesity, it’s far from the worst. Obesity kills people, both by wrecking their health and by destroying their spirit. Elevated blood sugar levels and coronary problems aside, the shame and self-hatred felt by many of the obese can lead to serious psychological problems – even suicide.
It’s beyond being just a problem. It’s a crisis. Many scientists and physicians believe that the obesity epidemic is the most serious health threat facing the population of our state.
Dealing with Obesity
If obesity were just a matter of losing weight, there would be no problem. Once a person’s daily caloric intake drops below the level needed to sustain life, they’ll lose weight – the laws of physics guarantee it.
But of course it’s not that simple. Yes, we eat too much – but why? Nothing in nature favors overeating, yet we do it anyway. If we could crack the secret of what makes people eat too much of the wrong foods, we’d be halfway to curing obesity.
Unfortunately, many Minnesotans try gimmicks in an attempt to slim down — fad diets, exercise programs, so-called weight-loss pills, etc. Most of them quickly regain any lost weight later on. Yet many obese people ignore or are unaware of the best method of losing weight: a medically-supervised program of dietary changes and increased activity. Experience has shown that such programs work well for most people who want to attain a healthy weight.
For some extremely obese people, of course, things are too far advanced for a 100% lifestyle-based obesity therapy. Fortunately, another option exists: weight loss surgery.
Weight Loss Surgery
Surgical weight loss procedures – also known as bariatric surgery — have been proven to help ease –or even cure – many co-morbidities, which are health conditions related to obesity. It can also help those who are obese but have no co-morbidities to reach their ideal weight, and guard against future health complications.
The three main types of weight loss surgery are malabsorptive, restrictive and combination surgery, each with different risks and benefits. Malabsorptive procedures alter the patient’s intestinal tract, changing the way the body absorbs food; restrictive procedures (e.g., the Lap-band and vertical banded gastroplasty procedures) create a small pouch that limits the amount of food a person can eat; and combination procedures, like the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, create a small stomach pouch and alter the intestinal tract.
For those with morbid obesity, weight loss surgery can mean the difference between life and death. It is not, however, magic. Recovery from obesity is a whole-life process; patients who fail to alter their lifestyles after surgery may regain any weight lost.
Weight loss surgery is a serious step. The risks associated with these procedures are real, and should always be discussed beforehand in consultation with a physician.
Considering Surgical Weight Loss
Minnesota may be the fittest state in America – but it could become the fattest if we don’t change our relationship to food and by adopt healthier lifestyles. By working together we can keep Minnesota fit!