Obesity: A Major Contributor to Rising Death Rates

rising death rates

After years of decline, mortality rates among middle-aged Americans throughout the United States have begun to increase. Additionally, in some parts of the country, life expectancy is falling.

What are the factors contributing to this rise in death rates? A recent article in the Denver Post highlighted the findings of a new study that sheds some light on this important issue.

Obesity a major contributor to rising death rates

Ryan Masters, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Colorado’s Institute of Behavioral Science and the lead author of this study, concluded that there are two main drivers of this trend in rising death rates: drug overdoses and obesity.

Masters and his research team identified the opioid epidemic as the bigger problem of these two drivers. According to the study, drug-related deaths of middle-aged white men have increased dramatically since 1980.

Obesity was also identified as a main factor in mortality. “We are just starting to see the real health consequences of the obesity epidemic,” Masters wrote. The study found that decades-long progress in fighting heart disease, diabetes and other metabolic diseases has slowed, contributing to the rising death rates.

Dr. Dirk’s opinion

Dr. Dirk agrees with the study’s conclusion that obesity is killing a lot of people. He also believes that, while the drug epidemic is dramatic, obesity affects far more people. There are many more obese people in the US than drug users, and more people die as a result of obesity because of the wide array of health issues it leads to, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.

Dr. Dirk believes the drug epidemic is important and must be addressed. However, he feels that obesity is a more pressing issue with a simpler solution. It is high time to make being healthy financially and physically possible for everyone.


The FDA’s New Gastric Balloon Warning: What Does It Mean?

Gastric Balloon Warning

While there are many different procedures and treatments for obesity, some can less safe and effective than others. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a warning about fluid-filled gastric balloon treatments.

What are intragastric balloons?

Intragastric balloons are a relatively new weight loss procedure. A balloon or balloons are placed in an overweight or obese patient’s stomach in order to take up stomach space. The balloon limits how much a patient can eat and helps them feel fuller faster.

There are two types of intragastric balloons: fluid-filled balloons and air-filled balloons.

What does the FDA warning say?

In February 2017, the FDA issued a warning about the Orbera and ReShape fluid-filled intragastric balloon systems. Based on multiple incidents, the FDA reported two problems associated with fluid-filled intragastric balloons.

The first problem involves intragastric balloons over-inflating with air or with more fluid while in a patient’s stomach, requiring early removal of the balloon system.

The second problem is the development of acute pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas. This problem also requires premature removal of the device.

What are Dr. Dirk’s thoughts?

According to Dr. Dirk, The FDA approves a medical device after a sample group of patients are observed for a period of time only to determine whether the device is safe.

FDA approval is based largely on the statistical probability of safety, not an absolute certainty. In other words, the FDA essentially makes an educated guess about safety of a treatment.

But despite the best efforts of regulators like the FDA, medical science takes time and many cases in order to discover what problems can crop up.

“The takeaway message here is is that the balloon is not a cure-all,” Dr. Dirk says. “Like any other medical device placed in the human body, it must be watched not only by the patient, but also by the doctors who placed the device in the patient.”

For more information about the intragastric balloon or other weight loss procedures offered by Dr. Dirk, schedule a consultation or call us to learn more 214-DRDIRK-1.