When most patients come through our doors, they’ve tried countless diet and exercise programs but still have not been able to lose weight or keep it off. They often feel frustrated and depressed, and rightfully so. When I meet with a patient for the first time I let them know that I believe in them. I know they’ve tried to lose weight. I understand that what they’re suffering from is a disease. And it’s NOT their fault. I can often see patients breathe a sigh of relief that we understand it’s not as simple as “eat less and move more.” Words that they’ve undoubtedly heard countless times before.
At NJBC we explain to our patients why they have been unsuccessful in fighting the uphill battle of weight loss. The reason – obesity is a disease of hormonal imbalance that is caused by several factors that fight against our body losing the weight.
These factors include:
Genetics: People are either born with a predisposition for obesity, or they are not. For many it is in their DNA, much like someone who might have a gene that increases their risk of developing certain cancers.
Hormones: Certain hormones can trigger weight gain during puberty, pregnancy or menopause. Other hormones, such as Ghrelin and Leptin, are responsible for hunger and satiety. Many times these hormones – Ghrelin and Leptin – are imbalanced in people who suffer from obesity.
Medications and Medical Conditions: Medications such as steroids, certain antidepressants and some blood pressure ones can cause people to gain weight. Medical conditions, such as Insulin resistance, make it more difficult for certain people to lose weight. In this case, carbohydrates and sugars are not metabolized efficiently and lead to rapid fat storage in the body.
Life Events: Life events such as an injury or illness that lead to long periods of inactivity can make it difficult to eat healthy foods and participate in physical activity.
Set Point: Set point is the weight that one’s body is trying to defend. Think of it like a thermostat, when the body detects that less calories are being eaten it adjusts its hormones to try and prevent weight loss from happening. The body does this by increasing the signals to the brain that cause hunger and decreasing the body’s ability to burn calories.
Our bodies are extremely complex and there are countless reasons why it’s difficult for a person to lose weight. If it were as simple as weight loss equals calories in (what we eat) minus calories out (exercise), we would not be facing the obesity epidemic that we see today. What we do know is that bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for obesity. It has been proven to break the ineffective dieting cycle by treating the hormonal imbalances of this disease, which can lead to dramatic and sustainable weight loss, resolution of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and sleep apnea, and ultimately a healthier journey forward for many of our patients.