Obesity surgery: Is not all that easy

24 07 2006

SurgeryWeight-loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is helping a lot of people around the globe to lose weight, thus reducing the risk of life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. This technique reduces the number of calories that a person can consume and absorb, usually restricting the size of the stomach and the length of the intestine, where nutrients are absorbed.

With a high incidence of obesity spreading around western countries, the number of such surgical procedure has been rising rapidly. Many people think now about surgery as an answer to their weight problem, even though that problem may or may not need surgery.

Now those people should think twice about obesity surgery after the study done by the American Public Health Association, published in the august issue of their journal, Medical Care.

This study has found that 39.6% of patients who undergo bariatric surgery develop complications within six months. Many of the complications were so serious that patients were readmitted to hospitals or visited hospital emergency rooms. The most common complications included vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal hernias, infections, pneumonia and respiratory failure, as well as the leaking of gastric juices caused by imperfect surgical connections between the stomach and the intestines.

Some private clinics are making a lot of money with weight-loss surgery, whether patients meet criteria or not. While this surgery may benefit some people who are in a critical point, more efforts should be placed in promoting good health habits and preventing weight gain. High-calorie foods should be treated like tobacco and alcohol, they have to be taxed. Tax money coming from high-calorie food could pay prevention programs and the promotion of healthier food in the media. While surgery may be helpful in some cases, prevention is the highway that leads to health.

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