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Who Qualifies?

Obesity is a major health concern. Recent studies have shown that one in six Americans is considered clinically overweight. Another growing concern is the number of people who are considered morbidly obese – a medical term used to describe people are 100 lbs overweight or more.

Generally, bariatric physicians measure people and their relative weight by way of Body Mass Index (BMI) – a way of measurement that is dependant on factors like height, age, and occasionally, sex. The outcome is measured in kg/m2.

The National Institute of Health considers anyone who has a BMI of 20-25 kg.m2 to be healthy and within a ”normal” weight range. Anyone under this measure is considered underweight, while anyone over this measure is considered overweight. If a person has a BMI of more than 30 kg.m2, that person is considered obese, while anyone who records a BMI of more than 40 kg.m2 is considered morbidly obese.

As a general rule, bariatric surgery is intended only for those who suffer from clinical morbid obesity. Obesity of this degree is truly morbid since individuals with it face increased complications from their obesity or may be expected to die earlier than predicted on the basis of life-expectancy tables.

The following criteria must usually be met before a patient can be accepted for weight loss surgery at most hospitals:

·        You must be at least 100 pounds overweight with a body mass index greater than 40.

·        If your body mass index is between 35 and 40, then you must have at least one associated medical problem (such as high blood pressure or diabetes).

·        You must be a non-smoker. Smoking often disqualifies patients from surgery, because it not only interferes with wound healing and causes respiratory complications, but counteracts all the medical benefits of weight loss.

·        You must have a sincere motivation to lose weight, including a willingness to make necessary changes in habits, to cooperate fully with instructions, and to keep appointments for follow-up visits.

·        You must be between 15 and 60 years of age, though this requirement may vary in individual cases.

Still, this is a standard guideline for bariatric surgery in general. There are several kinds of bariatric surgery, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.  Depending on the kind of surgery you will have, there may be additional criteria that follow.  

After surgery, several steps are made to ensure that you follow through with the long-term steps to help you reach ideal weight and health levels. For instance, if a patient doesn’t meet the guidelines, insurers won’t pay for surgery and most doctors won’t operate even if the patient offers to pay for it themselves.

The guidelines, the result of a 1991 National Institutes of Health consensus conference, are strict because the surgery isn’t without risk. About 1 percent of patients will die from complications. And because the most common form of weight loss surgery limits the body’s ability to absorb food, patients can suffer malnutrition, requiring a lifetime of nutritional supplements and follow-up care.

The consensus in the medical community is that bariatric surgery is the best and most effective alternative for people looking not only to lose weight, but to live a long and productive life free of future health problems. 

More often than not, those who suffer from morbid obesity fall into the trap carried out by the multi-billion dollar diet industry. Commercial programs take advantage of the fact that, for the overweight individual, there very often is an initial gratifying weight loss by adherence to any single program.

However, there tends to be a plateau in this rapid weight loss during which time many individuals drop out of the programs because they do not achieve the continuous ongoing weight loss that they find desirable.

Once commercial dieting programs have been abandoned, the weight that was initially lost then reaccumulates or sometimes accumulates to a degree that is even greater than the weight at the start of the program.

If you suffer from morbid obesity, the chance that you will benefit from a get-fit-quick program is doubtful. Your best alternative is bariatric surgery, especially if you suffer from additional health problems as a result of your weight. To see if you qualify, consult with your physician or one of the bariatric physicians. With their insight and your desire to take control of your life again, bariatric surgery will without a doubt help you become the person you’ve always wanted.