For anyone who has considered a weight loss program, there is certainly no shortage of choices. In fact, to qualify for insurance coverage of weight loss surgery, many insurers require patients to have a history of medically supervised weight loss efforts.
Most non-surgical weight loss programs are based on some combination of diet/behavior modification and regular exercise. Unfortunately, even the most effective interventions have proven to be effective for only a small percentage of patients. It is estimated that less than 5% of individuals who participate in non-surgical weight loss programs will lose a significant amount of weight and maintain that loss for a long period of time.
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 90% of all people in these programs regain their weight within one year. Sustained weight loss for patients who are morbidly obese is even harder to achieve. Serious health risks have been identified for people who move from diet to diet, subjecting their bodies to a severe and continuing cycle of weight loss and gain known as "yo-yo dieting."
The fact remains that morbid obesity is a complex, multifactorial chronic disease.
For many patients, the risk of death from not having the surgery is greater than the risks from the possible complications of having the procedure.
That is the key reason that in 2000, approximately 40,000 weight loss surgical procedures were performed and why the American Society for Bariatric Surgery estimates that 50,000 weight loss surgical procedures will be performed in 2001. Patients who have had the procedure and are benefiting from its results report improvements in their quality of life, social interactions, psychological well-being, employment opportunities and economic condition.
In clinical studies, candidates for the procedure who had multiple obesity-related health conditions questioned whether they could safely have the surgery. These studies show that selection of surgical candidates is based on very strict criteria and surgery is an option for the majority of patients.