Why is Obesity is a Medical Condition?

Oh geesh Dr Dirk, we get it, obesity is a medical condition!  I recently attended a great conference where the science of obesity was talked about at length.  By reading my blog you are well versed and know that obesity is responsible for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and GERD. You also know that by treating obesity with surgery we are treating and getting rid of those medical conditions.

There is new stuff that makes treating obesity with surgery more exciting.  Obesity is now understood to be a chronic inflammatory process. That means that the fat in your body is actually releasing chemicals that inflame your body. Yes, that soreness in your joints and back, that feeling of a chronic flu, that pain throughout your body, the headaches, the lack of energy. It is all because the fat in your body is working against your body.

These chemicals are attacking every cell of your body, putting your body under constant stress. This explains why obese patients are at higher risk for inflammatory conditions like heart disease, cancer, asthma, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease.

Why is this exciting?

For too long, doctors were happy to point at weight and dismiss patients for being weak of
character, having a food addiction or just being lazy. Science has once again proven these nay sayers wrong.  Because that same science has shown that when patients have obesity surgery, the levels of
those inflammatory chemicals drops fast and eventually disappears.

Even more exciting. Measuring levels of different hormones and chemical after obesity surgery showed the following;
Band – no minimal to no change ghrelin, no change in inflammatory chemicals, no change in gut hormones..
Sleeve – decrease in ghrelin with mild decrease in inflammatory chemicals, mild effect on gut hormones.
Gastric bypass – decrease in ghrelin, strong decrease in inflammatory chemicals, strong effect
on gut hormones.
Duodenal Switch – decrease in ghrelin, strongest decrease in inflammatory chemicals, strongest effect on gut hormones.

While this summary might make people think the Switch is the best weight loss surgery operation, it is not for everyone.  The great thing is that we have a number of choices for different patients. There is no need to cram everyone in to one mold.  So the jury is in with what folks like us have known for the longest time;

Obesity surgery helps patients lose weight, it gets rid of medical conditions (diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, GERD and high cholesterol) AND it reduces the level of inflammatory chemicals attacking the body every day.