Thursday, October 20, 2016

The True Cost of Obesity

A recent review which looked at improvements in illness and sick leave by employees who have had bariatric surgery got us thinking about the true cost of obesity. Of course, many of the impacts of being severely obese especially are impossible to put into dollars and cents. Still, there's no getting around the fact that, on top of the non-financial cost of being obese in terms of the length and quality of life, it's also very expensive.

The most obvious part of the equation, as we're keenly sware of of here at Dr. Feiz & Associates, are increased health care costs. Even with a decent insurance plan, prescriptions, frequent office visits, tests, outpatient procedures, and hospitalizations can really add up over the course of a lifetime.

That's just  one aspect of the cost side of the equation. Being severely obese can also really cut into income in a number of different ways. There's the increased number of sick days that may or may not be covered by employers but, more seriously for the individual, there's an increased chance of being out of work entirely. Sometimes there are health reasons for this and, sadly, workplace discrimination is a genuine issue for very obese obese individuals.

Fortunately, modern medical science is here with techniques that really do work, including procedures like a gastric sleeve with it's very many well documented benefits. It's a solution that really does add up.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Combating Obesity and Its Health Risks

As more research and studies are conducted to better understand the causes and risks of obesity, the results all tend to have a similar message; obesity leads to a number of life-threatening health problems. We at Dr. Feiz & Associates stay up to date on the latest discoveries so that we can continue to help patients significantly improve the overall quality of their lives through the latest and best bariatric surgery procedures.

Recently, new research has revealed that obese individuals with type 2 diabetes are at a much greater risk of developing liver cancer. Obesity has also been linked to a number of other health conditions such as osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and heart disease. That's why, now more than ever, it's important to address obesity so that patients can improve their health as well as their quality of life.

Many of our patients have experienced significant health improvements after losing their excess weight following a bariatric surgery, such as a sleeve gastrectomy. Apart from higher levels of energy and increased mobility, patients have also noticed that a variety of their health conditions have improved or have even been completely resolved.

Losing weight isn't just about looking better, it's also about reducing our risks of developing life-threatening health conditions and living happier and healthier lives. There are a number of bariatric surgery procedures that can provide patients with significant health improvements and long-term results. It's up to us to continue to make solid efforts to maintain our weight and keep our health in check so that we can experience the best that life has to offer.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Of Diet and Delusion

It doesn't matter whether you're dealing with severe obesity or the kind of smaller but still important weight issues that are now facing the majority of Americans, you are probably perfectly aware that you're eating more food than is good for you. Yet, you continue to eat that way. Even those of us here at Dr. Feiz & Associates find ourselves making food choices that may be less than ideal, while giving ourselves an excuse that may not be consistent with reality.

Everyone has their own excuses and it's easy to make fun of them in others, but harder to see in ourselves. For example, we've heard of one older gentlemen who always select strawberry ice cream, not because it's his favorite flavor, he says, but because he assumes it's healthier as there might be a small amount of actual strawberry contained within it. In reality, he might as well go with chocolate, but then why was it we found ourselves saying it was perfectly okay to eat that large bowl of super-rich, butter-laden Indian chicken curry because it had chicken breast and vegetables in it? Of course, the dish would have been fine...without the hugely fattening sauce which we nevertheless consumed in its entirety, while also downing every grain of rice and all the naan on our plate! Oh, did we mention that we walked an extra block before we ate and burned maybe 35 additional calories? Never mind.

Yes, if we're at all overweight, we all delude ourselves to some degree when we eat. There's a reason for it, however, and it's not that we're weak or lacking in self-control. It's actually very largely because of the hormonal impulses which are subtly encouraging us to eat as much as we can. The more overweight we are, the stronger and more difficult to fight those impulses become, which is why procedures like a gastric sleeve have proven to be such a godsend. These surgeries actually appear to address the hormonal impulses -- once useful to mankind when food was scarce, but now something of a curse -- which have been designed to make us eat more than we really need at any given time.

Of course, we humans are pretty good at deluding ourselves about all kinds of things, not just food. It's possible we'll never cure that problem in most areas of our lives, but at least a bariatric surgery can help us to be a bit more realistic about our eating.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Different Approaches to Weight Loss

At Dr. Feiz & Associates, we often hear about theoretically new methods of weight loss. Some seem more promising than others, of course. Others are modestly helpful. Lately, there's been lots of talk about weight loss therapy and how it can help people struggling with their weight.

This form of therapy, called Acceptance Based Behavioral Treatment, helps individuals cope with their feelings related to hunger and food. Although this form of therapy may be helpful, particularly for folks trying to lose a fairly small percentage of their body fat, severely obese people for the time being generally need the support of a bariatric surgery in order to make serious progress in the fight against obesity. It has been to actually change the mental impulses that often cause us to overeat in the first place.

Even so, it's important for bariatric surgery patients to remember to be mindful about the things they eat and the amount of physical activity we incorporate in our lifestyles. It's crucial to remember that weight loss always requires some significant effort and commitment. While the thought of having to make efforts to have healthier lifestyles and eating habits after a weight loss procedure may seem daunting to patients who have not yet received a procedure, they generally find their up to the task. That's the good news.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Don't Stress Out About It (Too Much)

Here at Dr. Feiz & Associates, we know that studies that can seem a bit confusing come out on a regular basis. A new one about the relationship between a tendency towards stress and anxiety being linked in some way to obesity got us thinking about how hard it is to figure out just what it is that triggers the overeating which is responsible for obesity, and also about how challenging it can be to achieve the truly healthy lifestyle we need to defeat it.

Indeed, aside from the matter of whether or not anxious people are more likely to be obese than calmer folks, there's the interesting everyday matter of what tends to trigger overeating. Yes, "stress eating" is a very common phenomenon, experienced by obese and non-obese individuals alike, who find that food tends to calm their anxieties.

Others, however, including at least some people with weight issues, actually tend to eat less and may even lose some weight when they are under some amount of stress. These people experience the equally common phenomenon of losing their appetite entirely when they are deeply worried about something. Indeed, for many people with weight issues, it's not so mcuh stress which can make them overindulge, it's boredom. At the same time, it's important to remember that not all stress is a bad thing; it can help us make important changes in our life and, at the right levels, can actually increase our enjoyment of life. It's all a matter of getting the right balance.

With all these subtleties and differences between individuals, it's no wonder that understanding how obesity works, and how to deal with it, has proven so incredibly difficult. Fortunately, we at least know that bariatric surgery really does seem to be the one thing that helps severely obese individuals to permanently reduce their food intake without being constantly distracted by excessive food cravings. At least there's one thing we don't have to stress out about!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Exercise Anyway!

For people trying to lose a lot of weight mostly by exercising a lot, the news has not been good. Evidence seems to indicate that, while exercise is certainly helpful for controlling weight -- and is absolutely excellent at improving our health and staving off the worst impacts of obesity -- it is not as powerful in terms of weight loss to try to expend more calories through exercise as it is simply to ingest fewer calories in the first place.

Here at Dr. Feiz & Associates, we understand why people are not thrilled by this. For many of us, it actually seems easier to increase our level of exercise than it is to eat a great deal less -- and that's because, as we've seen time and time again, while exercise tends to become a habit, curtailing our diet actually gets harder and harder over time for most individuals.

This is why so many people manage to lose a very large amount of weight ultimately regain their weight. It's very much as if the body and the brain, driven by certain key hormones, really wants us to regain the weight and will do everything in our power to persuade us to overeat so that we return to our prior weight. This is why procedures like the gastric sleeve have proven to be such a godsend to severely obese patients; they seem to actually change the metabolic processes that make weight loss so difficult for the large majority of patients.

Even so, whether or not you're are a candidate for bariatric surgery, we strongly advise everyone -- and especially those struggling with obesity -- to work exercise into their daily lives. (Though, of course, if you've been completely inactive, you should consult a physician before embarking on a vigorous new regime.) For nearly all of us, it's one of the best favors we can do for ourselves, with a lot of proven physical and psychological benefits. For those of us with obesity, however, it's one of the few countermeasures we can take that can reduce a great many of the worst impacts of being  overweight.

Health is not always an either/or situation. Sometimes it's more of a "yes, but..." In this case. it's "yes, exercise probably won't cure your obesity by itself" and "but, even if you remain obese, it will make your obesity-related health problems possibly a great deal less severe and, if you lose weight, it will help you stay that way and be as healthy as possible." In other words, just get out and do something. Regardless of whether or not you lose weight, you'll be a lot better off.

Friday, September 9, 2016

It's All in Your Head

Earlier today we were looking at a tasty looking recipe for a low-calorie dish using spaghetti squash in place of actual spaghetti. Of course, squash is a vegetable (well, technically, a fruit) and pasta is a grain-based dish; there really aren't all that many similarities except that it's long and stringy. Still, cover it with the right sauce and it can be a very nice part of a low-cal healthy lifestyle, even if lacks a lot of the yummy starch most of us crave. For us humans, it seems, a lot can be accomplished by fooling ourselves in minor ways with what really amounts to psychological tricks.

At Dr. Feiz & Associates, we're keenly aware that there's no underestimating the psychological side of weight loss. We're not just taking about psychology in the usual sense of dealing with how our thoughts and emotions impact our desire to overeat, we also mean that the only way we know we're hungry -- and we mean physically hungry, not just desiring food in order to pass the time -- is through our brains. Every time we eat, whether we're eating just the right amount to nourish our bodies or far too much, our brain is at the center of the experience.

An example of this that we often discuss involves the production of a hormone called ghrelin. In a person without obesity, this hormone performs the essential function of telling an individual that food is needed. However, obese individuals seem to produce more of it and, worse, its production actually increases when we begin to lose weight. So, our brain actually thinks we need food even when we don't and we feel as if we haven't eaten nearly enough. No wonder the statistics on weight loss are so depressing.

Fortunately, it turns out that bariatric surgery, such as a gastric sleeve, has a pretty big impact in terms of reducing these deceptive and dangerous signals. Specifically, by removing a large portion of the stomach, we also appear to reduce the production of ghrelin, which apparently makes it a lot easier to stick to the reduced calorie regimen we need to lose significant a lot of weight and keep it off over the long term.

So, in a funny way, when it comes to dealing with obesity, the way to a person's brain is largely through their stomach!