Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Possible Conflict: Obesity Surgery Could Save Money, But Preventing Obesity May Not Save Money

According to the Australian Medical Association (AMA), obesity surgery for an obese person would save money, since the $10,000 cost of the surgery -- in this case, lap band surgery -- would be recouped in two years because the surgery would save medication costs.

A study done in London seemed to indicate that the cost of preventing obesity is higher than the cost of doing nothing to try to prevent obesity. One of the reasons is this: Preventing obesity would cause people to be healthier, and healthier people would live longer.

And eventually healthier people may die from something more expensive. For example, the cost of lung cancer tends to be less than the cost of Alzheimer's, since many persons with lung cancer don't have long lives, while Alzheimer's sufferers may live a long time.

We believe that there may be some truth to both of the assertions. Bariatric surgery may be cost effective, especially, if the patient is a productive person within society. And some experts view the money spent on end-of-life illnesses, like Alzheimer's, as excessive.

However, we believe that quality of life is an important consideration when it comes to obesity. And obesity usually negatively impacts one's quality of life. Therefore, emphasizing the quality of life benefits of treating obesity should be an important element in any bariatric or weight loss center's marketing campaign.


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