Obesity is a major public health concern that is a leading cause of premature death and morbidity worldwide. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death, responsible for an estimated 3 million deaths globally each year.
In addition to being the second leading cause of preventable death, obesity also increases the risk of several serious health conditions that can lead to premature death. These include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer, such as endometrial, breast, and colon cancer.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity is a contributing factor in at least 13 different types of cancer. In fact, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified obesity as a “carcinogenic hazard” due to the strong evidence linking it to an increased risk of cancer.
Obesity also significantly increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition that can lead to serious health complications such as heart disease, kidney failure, and blindness. In the United States, more than 84 million adults have prediabetes, and the majority of them are overweight or obese.
Heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, is also strongly linked to obesity. Excess weight increases the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other factors that contribute to heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease, and weight loss through diet and exercise can significantly reduce the risk.
Bariatric surgery is a highly effective treatment option for obesity and its related comorbidities. The surgery, which involves reducing the size of the stomach or rerouting the small intestine, leads to significant weight loss and improvement in obesity-related conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and sleep apnea.
Studies have shown that bariatric surgery results in significant weight loss in the majority of patients. One meta-analysis of studies involving over 22,000 patients found that the average weight loss was between 60-80% of excess weight within two years of surgery. Additionally, the surgery has been shown to improve or resolve obesity-related comorbidities in up to 80% of patients.
Bariatric surgery has also been shown to be cost-effective in the long term. A study published in the journal JAMA Surgery found that the cost of bariatric surgery was offset by the savings in medical expenses within 3-5 years of surgery. This is because the surgery leads to a reduction in obesity-related medical expenses, such as hospitalizations and medications.
Despite the proven effectiveness of bariatric surgery, access to the procedure remains a major issue. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, less than 1% of individuals who meet the criteria for bariatric surgery actually receive it. Factors such as lack of insurance coverage, lack of access to qualified surgeons, and lack of information about the procedure all contribute to the low utilization of bariatric surgery.
Bariatric surgery is a highly effective treatment option for obesity and its related comorbidities. The surgery leads to significant weight loss and improvement in obesity-related conditions and has been shown to be cost-effective in the long term. However, access to the procedure remains a major issue and efforts are needed to increase access to bariatric surgery for those who can benefit from it.
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- World Health Organization. (2019). Obesity and overweight. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight
- American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. (2019). Bariatric Surgery Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.asbs.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/2019-asbs-bariatric-surgery-fact-sheet-final.pdf
- Chang, SH, Stoll, CR, Song, J, Varela, JE, Eagon, CJ, Colditz, GA, & Inabnet, WB. (2009). The effectiveness and risks of bariatric surgery: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis, 2003-2007. Journal of the American Medical Association, 302(14), 1547–1559.
- Ren, J-S, Li, X-F, Li, Y-L, & Li, Z-J. (2015). Long-term cost-effectiveness of bariatric surgery in morbid obesity: a systematic review. JAMA Surgery, 150(11), 1049–1058