While some places across the globe are struggling with food shortages and widespread starvation, others are experiencing the opposite: a ballooning number of obese people, some of whom die from weight-related conditions. The “Health At Every Size” movement (HAES) espouses the theory that weight doesn’t necessarily determine state of health, but many overweight and obese people still desire a slimmer body.
The issue of weight
BMI measurements that classify people as normal weight, overweight or underweight are based on long-outdated sums that fail to take individual physical variations into account. Different bone structures and ratio of fat to muscle are not allowed for when calculating BMI.
Fat phobia has become a discussion point, with some believing that the discrimination faced by heavier people is more detrimental to health than excess weight itself. While every individual has their own ideal bodyweight, in some extreme cases doctors advocate surgery as a last resort.
Weight loss surgery
There are various types of weight loss surgery, including the gastric bypass, gastrectomies and gastric bands. The most well-known procedure is the gastric bypass (Roux-en-Y gastric bypass in medical terms), which divides the stomach into two compartments, one of which will not be part of the digestive process.
The result for the patient is the inability to consume larger portions, as well as preventing food from being fully absorbed. Gastric bands are a watered-down version of bypass surgery: instead of surgically decreasing stomach size, an adjustable silicone band is put around the stomach to shrink its volume. A sleeve gastrectomy is an irreversible procedure that removes about 80% of the stomach – a gastric bypass that goes one step further than stapling the stomach.
Efficacy vs safety
Research shows that all of these surgeries can result in weight loss, but they don’t come without ramifications. The gastric band, an adjustable device that doesn’t involve any cutting of organs, might seem relatively benign in comparison to the bypass and gastrectomy, but comes with its own dangers. A band is still a foreign object in the body, which can cause various issues, and the operation often results in the need for further surgery. Both a bypass and gastrectomy result in greater weight loss, but can induce vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Is it worth it?
There is great debate about the use of surgery to treat the condition of being overweight or obese. If you’re on the fence, check this site for some fun to get your mind off the topic. Some people desire weight loss for aesthetic reasons and others to improve their health. Some people become overweight or obese because of eating disorders which cannot be addressed solely through surgery – procedures forcing individuals to restrict their food intake severely can actually trigger the compulsion to starve oneself, common in anorexia patients. Apart from this there is a real risk of not surviving the operation or following months of recovery.
Weighing up your options
It is clear that weight loss surgery is far too complex a topic to cover in a short article. The decision is an extremely personal one, and individuals ought to consider all factors before going under the knife.