Being overweight or obese is associated with heart disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, stroke, arthritis, sleep apnea, and mood disorders such as depression. While addressing each of these medical problems is important, it is somewhat like cutting individual stems of a weed. The stems will grow back until the roots are cut off. In humans, obesity is acknowledged by the Surgeon General's Office, National Institutes of Health, numerous medical organizations, and health insurance companies as a major contributor to a broad range of diseases. It is, in the weed analogy, a significant part of the roots that need to be cut off.
The reality is that a person who is obese has, or is at increased risk for, not one but several of the aforementioned disorders and the price is high- in health, life, and money. A knee replacement surgery can cost $20-30,000. Angioplasty runs $7-15,000. A cardiac bypass procedure may cost $25,000. Back surgeries are approximately $8,000-$80,000 depending on type. One particularly staggering statistic, published in the journal Circulation, reported lifetime per person direct and indirect costs for mild coronary heart disease at over $700,000 and for severe coronary artery disease at over $1,000,000. Depending on the insurance coverage, one may pay substantially less than the reported costs. However, in the end, nothing is free and all will face increased premiums down the road. It is our opinion that it is penny wise and pound foolish to ignore dealing with obesity when attempting to treat the other associated medical disorders.
The good new is that you can readily make a real difference in your health and ultimately for healthcare costs for everyone. Taking a few small steps at a time on a daily basis will eventually build a healthier life. Health is not running a marathon in a few hours or climbing Mount Everest in a few days. The beauty of it is that the small and steady steps for a lifetime can have outsized benefits. Eat a few healthier choices each day, get enough sleep, walk a little more, exercise a little more- all these add up. See a physician regularly to get your specific medical disorders mitigated or under control. And of course, strive for a healthier weight. Even a modest weight loss of 5-15% has been asserted to reduce risk for cardiovascular and other disorders. For a 300 lb patient, that can mean as little as 15 lb—readily achievable by most.
We hope that you can find a physician to partner with. With over 10 years of experience and with training in primary care and bariatrics, we believe that our friendly, comfortable and knowledgable environment can help you start those small and steady life-long steps towards a healthier life.