There are several definitions of obesity. If one looks in the Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition reads: a condition that is characterized by excessive accumulation and storage of fat in the body and that in an adult is typically indicated by a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. It is the fat storage that drives the problems associated with obesity such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and obstructive sleep apnea.
According to the American Medical Association, obesity is a disease. Thus, obesity needs to be treated as a disease. Certainly with any disease, such as high blood pressure, there are choices that one makes that may impact the disease. The same is true for obesity.
Non-surgical and surgical options exist for obesity treatment. Non-surgical options are the options that many people choose on their own or with the supervision of a medical practitioner. Non-surgical options include diet, exercise and perhaps taking medications approved for weight loss. There is the oldest drug phentermine and two newer drugs that the FDA approved: Qsymia and Belviq. Most recently in September 2014, the FDA also approved Contrave for weight loss. In order for a practitioner to prescribe one of the three most recently approved drugs, Qsymia, Belviq and Contrave, a person must have a BMI greater than 30 or a BMI greater than 27 with co-morbid conditions (such as high blood pressure or diabetes).
Surgical treatment for obesity is the mainstay for persons suffering from morbid to malignant obesity. Classifying surgical options based on their ability to alter one’s metabolism provides people with a greater understanding of how that surgery may assist in correcting their obesity. Metabolic operations alter the physiology that decreases our bodies desire to store fat as energy, suppresses appetite and increases energy expenditure. Non-metabolic operations have no effect on physiology, but provide a person with a smaller stomach thus not allowing that person to take in as much food at one given time.
When considering weight loss it is best for you to discuss treatment options and have a plan that is supervised by your healthcare provider. If you would like further information regarding surgical options, please call Roper St. Francis Bariatric and Metabolic Services (843) 958-2590.
By Molly McBrayer, clinical manager, Roper St. Francis Bariatrics & Metabolic Services