Obesity is a life-threatening disease afflicting patients in the United States at an alarming rate. A quarter of the population is obese, and another 97 million Americans are overweight or at risk of becoming obese. The prevalence of obesity has increased more than 60% in the past decade. Given this aggressive increase in the rate of obesity, experts predict that this national health crisis will only continue to escalate.
Obesity and Health
Obesity contributes to 300,000 deaths each year, making it the second leading cause of preventable death after smoking. In fact, it is more damaging to your health than smoking and alcohol abuse.
The Health Risks of Obesity: Co-morbidities
Obesity is a major risk factor for serious medical conditions (co-morbidities), such as
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
- gastroesophageal reflux disease
- sleep apnea
- respiratory problems
- joint problems
Measuring Obesity: BMI
The most common measurement for obesity is the Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is the body weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters. While the BMI does not actually measure body fat, it tends to correlate well with the degree of obesity. The BMI is a good guideline, but your physician should always consider your individual case.
The National Institutes of Health or N.I.H. has established guidelines for the criteria which defines who is an appropriate candidate for bariatric surgery.
Patients with a BMI of 30 with one or more co-morbidities ARE considered a candidate for weight loss surgery.
Patients with a BMI of 35 or higher are candidates regardless of the presence of any co-morbidities.
The N.I.H. recommendations have been widely adopted as the standard which insurance companies use to determine eligibility for weight loss surgery. However, even if you "qualify" by these standards, your insurance company may deny coverage based upon policy limits or other exclusions. Click here to find out more about insurance coverage and how we can help you with financing your surgery. Patients who are self-financing surgery without insurance coverage are not subject to the NIH minimum BMI limitations for surgery.