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 May 11, 2005
Gastric Surgery for Severe Obesity
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Obesity is a medical term meaning the storage of excess fat (adipose tissue) in the body.


Often referred to as a "disease," obesity is actually a sign of what may well be a spectrum of different kinds of disorders - genetic or environmental. In fact, there is no single definition of obesity. It may be simply an extreme degree of overweight, but a person can be overweight without being obese: a 250-pound six-foot linebacker, for example, may be overweight according to ordinary standards, but may actually have a below-average amount of body fat. In contrast, a person in a normal weight range but with very sedentary habits could have a small muscle mass and be storing excess fat and thus be classifiable as obese. About one-third of all Americans are above their ideal weights as determined by standard tables, and for the majority of them, the excess weight is in the form of body fat, not muscle mass. Of this group, about half exceed their ideal weight by 20 percent or more and hence are classified as obese. Successful programs for weight loss reduction and maintenance should be started and continue under the care of a physician. The program may include:

  • A low-fat, high-complex carbohydrate, high fiber diet
  • Behavior modification to change eating behavior
  • Exercise
  • Social support
  • Medications, both over-the-counter and by prescription
Clinically severe obesity is a condition in which people are at very high risk of suffering from medical problems or even death. Consensus recommendations are to limit surgical therapies to patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 40. BMI is calculated by dividing the measured body weight in kilograms by the height in meters squared. The normal BMI is 20 to 25 kilograms per meters squared.


Am I considered overweight, obese or severely obese? What is my ideal body weight? Is the obesity caused by other medical problems? What are they? Do you recommend surgery to help reduce weight? What type of surgical procedure do you recommend? What are the risks and complications? What is the long-term prognosis?

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