A person is affected by severe obesity when their body mass
index (BMI) is greater than 40 or their BMI is 35 or higher and
accompanied by medical conditions such as high blood pressure,
diabetes and sleep apnea.
BMI, a measure of body fat based on height and weight, is an
indicator of one’s degree of obesity, which ranges from mild to
severe. A person with a BMI greater than 40 is usually 100 pounds
heavier than a person of the same height at a healthy weight.
For patients wishing to lose weight, a nonsurgical program
that integrates exercise with changes to diet and lifestyle is the
recommended first step. Working with a professional weight loss
program can help with setting realistic goals and connecting
patients with the support of a dietitian.
Some patients do not achieve the desired results with dietary
and lifestyle changes alone. If surgery is the right option, it is an
effective tool for long-term weight loss and improved health.
“Bariatric surgery has been shown to help improve or resolve
many obesity-related conditions, such as Type-2 diabetes, high
blood pressure, heart disease and more,” said
Luciano DiMarco, DO, FACOS, a bariatric
surgeon with Central Pennsylvania Surgical
In general, most programs require bariatric
surgery candidates to be at least 18 years old
and to complete a comprehensive evaluation,
including a psychological screening, with a
variety of health care professionals to ensure
they are physically and emotionally prepared
for the procedure and the lifestyle changes that accompany it.
“Bariatric surgery is a lifelong commitment. After surgery,
patients must commit to regular follow-up visits for the first year,
and then annually thereafter,” Dr. DiMarco says. “If a patient
requires more care, visits can be more frequent.”
Success after bariatric surgery requires important lifestyle
changes, like eating well and exercising. Taking vitamin, nutrient,
and protein supplements are important to avoid nutritional
shortfalls caused by the required diet and smaller food intake.
Weight loss programs offer support groups and ongoing
education. Classes can include educational and informational
seminars taught by various health care professionals that address
nutrition and healthful lifestyle habits designed to support
sustained weight loss.
Whether nonsurgical or surgical options are selected, a
commitment to lifestyle changes that include exercise and a healthy diet is the key to lifelong results.