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Posted: Tuesday, January 20, 2015

When diet and exercise just aren't enough

We’re a few weeks into 2015 and chances are that by now you’ve either made significant progress toward keeping your New Year’s weight loss resolution, or you’ve given up on it already. If you haven’t had the success you were looking for, you really shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. Many resolutions – even those made with the best intentions – don’t last the first month of the year. Sometimes, the problem is the resolution itself. Sure, it’s a popular resolution to make, but for many people it’s one that is, simply put, out of reach. For some, simply deciding to eat well and exercise more won’t produce the desired results. Fortunately, there are options to consider if you find you can’t quite reach your New Year’s weight loss goals on your own.

Bariatric coordinator Stephanie Johnson from the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center says that for those struggling with morbid obesity, diet and exercise may not be enough. “Obesity is a common problem, particularly in Tennessee where 33 percent of the adult population is battling it,” Johnson said. “It’s a disease that can affect the whole body and one that frequently is stigmatized. People who are morbidly obese not only are dealing with their own feelings, but often the weight biases from their surrounding environment,” she explained. “Added to that, you have all the comorbidities that morbid obesity can cause, such as diabetes, certain types of cancer and other detrimental health conditions. A morbidly obese person dies an average of 10-15 years sooner than an individual who has a healthy weight,” she said. “It’s also important to consider the quality of life issues a morbidly obese person experiences. It’s a disease that can hold someone back from doing many of the things he or she wants to do in life,” Johnson added.

Johnson says, unfortunately, obesity can be difficult to treat. “When it comes to treating obesity, multiple factors come into play, many of which are challenging including environmental, hormonal and genetic issues that require consideration,” Johnson said. “Of course, conventional forms of weight loss always are preferable, but once a person develops morbid obesity, achieving sustained weight loss by conventional means has a low rate of success,” she explained. “Bariatric surgery is one tool that can be used to help assist with sustainable weight loss. At the Blount Memorial Weight Management Center, our Cleveland Clinic-trained bariatric surgeon Dr. Onyeka Nwokocha performs two different types of surgery – gastric sleeve and gastric bypass. However, we also offer other services, such as putting people in contact with our registered dietitians or the trainers at our fitness center,” she added.

Ultimately, whether you’ve resolved to lose a little weight on your own, or want to make big lifestyle changes, it all begins with a first step. “We invite anyone who is considering having weight loss surgery to attend one of our educational seminars where you can meet Dr. Nwokocha and hear more about the surgical options available,” Johnson said.

There are two “Bariatric Basics” sessions this week. The first takes place today, Jan. 19 at 8 a.m. in the East Tennessee Medical Group community room, located at 266 Joule St. in Alcoa. The second takes place this Thursday, Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. in the Blount Memorial Hospital auditorium.

For more information or to register for the “Bariatric Basics” program, call 865-977-4673 or 866-300-8644.

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