Obesity is an epidemic worldwide; the percent of adults aged 20 years and over who are overweight, including those with obesity, is 69.0% (2011-2012). Its time to face facts: our modern lifestyle is filled with plenty of delicious, inexpensive and almost instantly available high calorie food options.
Today, we have a huge imbalance between the amount of energy that we ingest and the energy we expend. If you think about it, it is very difficult to expend calories during your normal day – even if you really try to do it, it is so easy to find an obstacle. Airports, shopping centers, buildings, banks, hospitals and most of today’s modern construction almost never have access to stairs, but we find electric rides everywhere.
On top of that, we have less and less time to do everything we are supposed to do. You have to divide your day between your job, kids, pets, your house, studying, Facebook, friends and sleep – so when are you supposed to cook healthy food at home? You might even be saving extra money to pay for the gym, but then not have the time or energy to go. There’s so much temptation to give up and surrender to your smart phone or TV and forget about it.
If we look back, we realize that our ancestors were facing extreme survival conditions and their anatomy and physiology was adapted to that time period. Studies from Mark Sorencen and William R. Leonard of Northwestern University estimated that the Neanderthals most likely would have required as many as 4,000 calories a day to survive. That means that, along with the skills and physical activity necessary to find their food, they needed to have the right stomach size to meet these needs. It required a large quantity of food to provide these calories, and in turn, the right appetite to encourage them to eat it.
Today, per the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, a sedentary man aged 31 to 50 years has an average caloric requirement of 2,200 calories while moderately active men need 2,600 calories.
We are now facing a huge difference between our genetic information and the modern lifestyle that is leading us – and our children – into an unhealthy physical condition. We have to be aware of these changes and work every day to increase our amount of exercise, decrease the high caloric food we ingest and change our lifestyle.
For the 34% of men and 20% of adolescents who already are obese, there is hope to help them to correct this imbalance and recover their health.
The sleeve gastrectomy is a bariatric procedure that recreates a smaller stomach. It involves changing your stomach size from XXL to S – an instant adjustment that better fits our modern lifestyle.
One of the most important mechanisms of the sleeve gastrectomy that decreases excess weight is a significant decrease in appetite, allowing the patient to be less stressed during the post-operative period. Ghrelin is an important hormone associated with appetite and the area of the stomach that is removed during the operation contains the majority of ghrelin-producing cells.
Actually, the sleeve gastrectomy is the most popular bariatric procedure performed in the United States and worldwide. It is increasing in acceptance by patients and recommended by bariatric surgeons because there is minimal alteration in the anatomy, it has a very low complication rate and shows great results in weight loss and in the resolution of the comorbidities of obesity.
This procedure can be completed laparoscopically with small incisions, very little post-operative pain, an average hospital stay of 2 days and only 2 or 3 weeks of recovery time.
Every day, millions of patients are suffering, taking multiple medications from different doctors to try to control comorbidities that can be improved, or even cured, with just one operation. If you are part of the 69% of Americans facing this problem, consult with your primary care physician or get an evaluation by a qualified bariatric surgeon.
Alexander Ramirez, MD, is a general surgeon at TMH Physician Partners Surgical Specialists. Dr. Ramirez is board-certified in general surgery, bariatric surgery and minimally invasive surgery.