Womens Health

Surgery Now Available For The Moderately Obese

If you spend time with any group of middle-aged women, you'll hear all about their weight loss efforts. Most women spend most of their lives trying to keep their weight from spiraling out of control into obesity. At times, dieting becomes such a major annoyance that even the moderately overweight person dreams of a quick-fix, such as surgery.

No Coverage

But medical guidelines for weight-loss surgery don't take into account the moderately obese person and the insurance companies won't provide coverage unless the patient is truly obese. To be considered as a candidate for this type of surgery, one has to have a BMI (body mass index) of 40 or higher or at least 35 in those who have medical issues related to overweight, such as sleep apnea or diabetes.

That said, with a little determination, you just may be able to get that surgery. Some of the moderately obese are now participating in clinical trials for new weight-loss procedures, of which there are several. This type of surgery is undergoing great technical advances so that it has begun to be seen as yet another option for treating the moderately obese. Those doctors in favor of these procedures believe they can help prevent medical issues associated with obesity, for instance diabetes. Of course, most of the doctors voting yes to these procedures are the ones performing the surgeries.

Potential Complications

Other health professionals are less convinced that weight-loss surgery should be so cavalierly administered to those who don't fall into the category of the truly obese. First of all, this is surgery we're talking about, and all surgeries, carry the potential for complications. Northwestern University's Dr. Robert Kushner, a professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine says, "If you're looking at the numbers of people who are obese—that's a third of the population. It's unimaginable even thinking about providing invasive procedures to a group this large." Kushner further comments that obesity is a national health crisis that cannot be solved by the use of surgical interventions.

Nutritionists are also among the naysayers. But then again, you knew they'd be against anything that claims to override good eating habits and exercise. That sort of thing was bound to be given the thumbs-down.

Partial Solution

Meantime, the rise in obesity within the U.S. has alarmed the medical community. The December 2009 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine claims that national rates for obesity will soon negate any gains in the mortality rate achieved by the decline of smoking in the U.S. This is precisely why the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery believes that surgery can be a part of the solution to the problem of obesity.

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