Post No.: 0647
For the severely or morbidly obese, exercise can be too hard on their joints and heart, thus exercise – at the required intensity that’s going to really turn their life around in time – cannot be an immediate solution for them. Bariatric surgery is thus arguably one of their best immediate options according to current available medicine (which is advancing all of the time).
The most common forms of bariatric surgery are gastric bands, gastric bypasses and sleeve gastrectomies. Gastric bypasses are more invasive and expensive but tend to be more long-term effective than sleeve gastrectomies. Gastric bands tend to be even less effective but can be relatively easily removed if any problems arise. All of these options have their side-effect risks however. But it’s like all drugs come with side-effect risks but impartial doctors will weigh out the overall pros and cons of prescribing particular drugs or not according to a patient’s current condition and prognosis. Thus undergoing bariatric surgery can be, on balance, far better for a patient’s health than remaining morbidly obese. (And this post is taking a purely health-risk point of view and is making no commentary on body confidence or body shaming whatsoever.)
There may be prejudice against obese people when it comes to them receiving beneficial consultations and treatments or operations under a public healthcare system. (A private healthcare system is even more discriminatory though because it basically depends on whether one can privately afford potential lifesaving medicine or not.) But not treating obese people can be counter-productive because it could lead to greater costs down the line. By treating and reducing obesity however we can, we can reduce a lot of obesity-related disease cases (e.g. cancers, diabetes, even the severity of COVID-19) down the line that would otherwise create a greater overall burden on healthcare services.
I logically support anything that can reduce obesity-related diseases, even if this means surgery, as long as it is effective and cost-effective in the bigger picture. Nevertheless, the most effective and cost-effective societal solution is the prevention of obesity, or certainly morbid obesity, in the first place.
Promoting regular physical activity and healthful diets to children and adults, food industry and advertising industry regulations, and other preventative measures, should be regarded as the priorities; with bariatric surgery, weight-loss pills and similar treatments regarded as the last resorts.
Besides, it’s more than merely about preventing obesity-related diseases – regular exercise and healthful diets bring cognitive and mood benefits, they improve the productivity of workers in an economy, and more. So even if bariatric surgery were cheap and totally safe – encouraging exercise and healthy diets would still bring major benefits for society and for individuals in a multitude of ways. We don’t want to be just ‘not rubbish’ regarding our health – we want as much vitality as we can obtain in life! Woof!
There’s far more to good health than just being in the ‘right weight range’. Those who undergo bariatric surgery will still need to subsequently eat the right foods and start exercising regularly afterwards if they wish to lose weight and keep it off anyway.
The full long-term effects of the various forms of bariatric surgery vary between different individuals. Many respond well in the short-term, but some others don’t respond well even within a short time period. They’re also expensive, some procedures are irreversible, and all are risky – it’s invasive surgery after all. A minority do die on the operating tables or soon afterwards due to complications.
When these types of operations are only available to those who exceed a certain threshold BMI and who’ve failed with other methods of weight loss, this may act as an incentive for those near that threshold to gain even more weight and to deliberately fail in order to be eligible for these operations! Yet how else should it be? Invasive surgery shouldn’t be a first resort or be given to those who aren’t overweight enough. (It’s a similar problem when people with under-eating disorders are told that their BMIs are too high to qualify for help – here, it just reinforces the notion that one needs to lose more weight. People who under-eat and are looking for help are not seeking to have any invasive surgeries though. Yet – whether regarding over-eating or under-eating – everyone should receive help in some form when they seek it.)
Gastric bypasses not only reduce the size of a patient’s stomach to about the size of a thumb but also affect the signals to the brain relating to satiety and in turn hunger and the craving for high-calorie foods. (Drugs are currently being trialled to see if the hormonal effects of a gastric bypass can be mimicked without the need for invasive surgery.) As a result, many patients just won’t feel as hungry anymore. Having said that, many others will gradually slip back to their old consumption habits if they don’t change their lifestyles. The reduced-sized stomach will also reduce vitamin and mineral absorption, which introduces problems of its own, plus one may suffer from increased flatulence and halitosis.
It is recommended that those who have gastric surgery should subsequently avoid eating or drinking certain foods or drinks anymore. It is also recommended that they change certain other habits like to sip liquids between one’s meals rather than with one’s meals. Keeping fit through regular exercise and a well-balanced, varied diet presents no such disadvantages, restrictions or limitations on your life so you can still enjoy those one-off Christmas or party feasts with everyone else, plus these approaches offer so many more furry advantages – physically, mentally and socially to one’s quality of life.
Gastric balloons don’t require any bodily incisions but are only temporary measures – many people will return back to their previous weight after 2 years of having one.
Whichever method(s) people use to lose weight, some don’t factor in that they’ll be left with excess skin after they lose a lot of weight – they just expect to be a slim person (again). Indeed it’s far better to have excess skin from losing a lot of weight than to remain severely obese when it comes to one’s health (that skin can be surgically removed, although it’ll leave scars), but it shows how preventing obesity remains the best solution of all, and this of course starts young. Prevention is once more better than gaining the weight then losing it.
So, in summary – having bariatric surgery may be better for reducing one’s mortality risk than remaining morbidly obese, but it’s still nowhere near as good as simply beating obesity through a well-balanced and varied diet, and regular and sufficient physical activity levels. (If your chief goal is to lose weight though then – as Fluffystealthkitten said in Post No.: 0367 – you should focus more on reducing how much you’re consuming than increasing how much you’re exercising; although your diet and activity levels work together.) Moreover, undergoing bariatric surgery is absolutely nowhere near as good as not becoming obese in the first place. It won’t tackle the real root problems that caused one’s obesity in the first place and it won’t guarantee a high quality of life – patients will still need to improve their dietary habits and lifestyles at the end of the day. It’s not a cure or magic reset button and – although it might be too late for some individuals right now – prevention is still the best approach.
Woof. If you have any personal experience of considering or undergoing bariatric surgery in any form then you can share your views on the issue via the Twitter comment button below. There may be newer, safer and/or more effective methods being developed and tested? (I will take a broad look at weight loss pills next time.) A particular procedure may have worked out perfectly for you, or you may share some cautions to be aware of? These will all be valid experiences and views and will all add to the fuller picture so that people can be better informed if they’re considering undergoing the same procedure.