For decades, physicians have known that obesity can severely impact a patient’s health. But, in 1997, perceptions shifted when the World Health Organization formally labeled obesity a “global epidemic”.
Today, more than one third of all US adults suffer from obesity, while nearly three in four are considered overweight. Doctors estimate that obesity has become the seconding leading cause of preventable death behind smoking. And, with smoking rates dropping slightly every year, it may soon overtake it.
Obesity is known to cause Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and increase a patient’s risk of cancer and stroke. While the link between obesity and these co-morbidities is proven to be strong, it is perhaps the strongest with diabetes. It is estimated that 80 to 90 percent of patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes are also obese. While the direct effects of obesity as it relates to heart disease are more difficult to calculate, it is estimated that obesity increases an individual’s risk of dying from heart disease anywhere from 10 to 50 percent.
While many people like to think of obesity simply as a personal problem, it is important to note that the costs of obesity extend far beyond an individual’s health and wellness. It is estimated that we in the United States spend over $190 billion dollars each year on obesity-related medical costs. Not only does this cost serve to squander future economic potential for our children, it also increases the overall medical costs for everybody seeking medical care today.
Luckily, weight loss surgery has emerged as a light at the end of the tunnel. These procedures have proven benefits that can, little by little, combat the obesity epidemic and the negative health effects it brings with it.