We now know that obesity and its related diseases (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, fatty liver, obstructive sleep apnea, arthritis to name a few…) are a global epidemic. We also now know that as Americans we are bigger than we’ve ever been: The average U.S. adult now has a body mass index (weight (kg) / height (m)2) that are classified as overweight and just shy of qualifying as obese. That means that most of us are facing serious health consequences due to obesity.
While there are a variety of diets, exercise plans, and medicines that are available to assist us in our weight loss journey, it is often difficult to achieve lasting success. When we are unsuccessful with losing weight with these conservative measures, the typical remaining option is weight loss (bariatric) surgery. The most common operations performed in the U.S. are the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy and Roux-en-y gastric bypass. Both operations are associated with significant weight loss and substantial and meaningful improvements in obesity-related diseases like diabetes.
Yet despite these impressive results, less than 1% of potential candidates end up undergoing the operation and it appears that there is a lot of stigma and confusion related to these surgeries. Two recent studies have shed some light on this problem.
In a recent telephone survey of 948 individuals, nearly half (49.4%) of respondents thought people had bariatric surgery for cosmetic rather than medical reasons, and 39.1% felt that people undergoing surgery were choosing “the easy way out.” Perhaps even more concerning, just 19.2% thought insurance should always pay for such surgery. This highlights a pervasive negative public perception of obesity and weight loss surgery, despite the prevalence of obesity and proven benefits of these operations.
A second large survey study including 815 respondents tried to answer the question: What is most important to you in choosing a weight loss operation? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the results confirm that what patients are looking for is the most ‘bang for their buck.’ The most important factors included a higher amount of weight loss, resolution of obesity-related diseases, and lower out of pocket costs. It is also interesting to see that patients would be willing to pay $5470 for losing each additional 20% of excess body weight (current weight – ideal weight/ideal weight x 100), and $12,843 for resolution of existing medical conditions. Unfortunately, insurance doesn’t always cover the operation, and medical providers have little training and experience in discussing costs with patients.
Regardless of which path you choose, it is important to recognize that doing something positive your health is never a bad idea. Deciding on the best approach for you is complex, and many factors including time, complexity, risk, costs and results play a role. For many patients who have not achieved lasting success with diet and lifestyle changes, the ESG procedure offers a safe, non-surgical, cost-effective option that can provide the boost in weight loss to jumpstart their path to a healthier life. Find out if the ESG is right for you!