Wednesday, 10 January 2007

The Thinnest Cut

Obesity operations have increased in the U.S.

A study released today reports that more than 120,000 Americans had some kind of surgery to lose weight in 2004. In 1998, 772 people aged 55-64 had a gastric bypass, stapling or a similar procedure known as bariatric surgery, but that number increased to 15,086 in 2004, according to the Agency for Healthcare Researcy and Quality.

One of the reasons for the increase in obesity surgery, according to the agency, is the reduction in deaths from surgery-related complications. The national death rate fell from 0.9% in 1998 to 0.2% in 2004. I guess that's good news. For those who are considering surgery, anyway.

The agency says that a growing number of younger people are undergoing obesity surgery. Of the over 120,000 people who had surgery in 2004, 103,000 were aged 18-54, and 349 were aged 12-17. The agency says that the health care system should be prepared for an increase in the rate of obesity surgery and its potential complications.

The average cost of an obesity operation, excluding physician fees, was over $10,000 in 2004.

Given the cost and the potential complications of weight-reducing surgery, I don't understand why many people neglect to control their weight through diet and exercise in the early stages of weight gain, before they start to feel desperate. I'm not keen on operations of any kind, not even a "minor" one. So, how could I understand why anyone would choose to have drastic obesity surgery?

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