Thursday, February 26, 2009

Childhood Obesity Can Hinder Career Success

Parents want their kids to be successful in life. And of course this includes success in a chosen career. Many parents will spend huge sums of money on private kindergartens, elementary, and high schools for their children. Some parents will pay for special tutorial programs to help their kids do well on the SAT and other college entrance exams. However, it is now becoming apparent that parents can help their kids succeed in life by also taking action to help their kids maintain a healthy body weight early in life.

A study done in Canada has shown that obese persons in the workplace receive less support from fellow workers. Obese persons are more likely to be absent from work. And when they are at work, obese persons are less productive than their more lean colleagues.

Some believe that obese persons are discriminated against in the work place, including being less likely to be hired, and less likely to be promoted than persons of normal weight. Therefore, the Canadian study and other obesity-related workplace observations should motivate parents to become cognizant of the long-term effects of childhood obesity. Childhood obesity may negatively affect a child's future career.

At least one state, Virginia, has started to focus on childhood obesity. Both of the Virginia legislative branches -- the House and Senate -- have passed bills to change the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation to the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. In its present form, the organization’s mission is to focus on anti-smoking. With the name change, the organization would enlarge its mission to fight childhood obesity in addition to smoking.

While Virginia's Governor has not yet signed the bill, Virginia has taken a large step toward fighting obesity. Virginia's action is not the first time a state has taken some action to address obesity. Twenty-seven states have put tariffs on vending machine items such as candy and soda in an attempt to reduce obesity.

Although a government entity can take action to combat obesity, the fight against childhood obesity must begin in the home. Parents have the greatest influence on a child during the child's childhood. And since obesity can be an impediment to future success, parents should be interested in joining the fight against obesity. Bariatric or weight loss centers could work with parents in the community to educate them on the best procedures to use to help children maintain a healthy weight. This collaboration could help the community, and enhance a center’s local reputation.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Frequent Self-Weighing as a Weight Loss Tool

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) recently released a statement asking that people dedicate themselves to engaging in healthful behaviors for a lifetime. Of course, this probably means that starting early in life, people should adhere to a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Obesity, early in life, often leads to obesity later in life. So tools -- especially simple tools -- that can help children and adults lose weight, or manage weight, would prove useful.

Not only would the tools prove useful in weight loss and weight management, the tools would also help save money. The organization, Health Advocate (TM), a group that focuses on healthcare, authored a report entitled, "Obesity in America: Workplace Solutions." The report suggests that employers should offer programs to help employees lose and maintain a healthy weight. The report goes on to say that offering cost-effective programs could actually help employers save money. It is estimated that employers spend in excess of $13 billion per year on obesity-related medical costs and lost productivity.

The three methods used to fight weight are lifestyle modification (focusing heavily on diet and exercise), obesity drugs, and weight loss surgery. Some behavior modification is commonly a part of all three methods. One way to modify behavior is to monitor some indicator of the behavior you are trying to modify. Weighing is often used to monitor weight to determine how well a weight loss program is working. Moreover, some experts believe that frequent self-weighing is a motivator for weight loss or weight management.

A study, reported on in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, appears to indicate that weekly self-weighing, as a motivator for weight loss or weight management, is supported by evidence. However, the study goes on to say that more research is needed. The study makes the point that frequent self-weighing might cause psychological problems.

However, if frequent self-weighing is a powerful strategy for losing and maintaining weight, frequent self-weighing could be instituted early in life. And assuming that frequent self-weighing during childhood doesn’t do psychological harm, self-weighing during childhood could be useful in curbing adult obesity. Moreover, mass use of the tool throughout life could help reduce costs associated with obesity.

Bariatric or weight loss centers should take note of the self-weighing research. And if the research supports using self-weighing for weight loss and weight management, a center could work with its community to emphasize the importance of self-weighing as a way to improve health or maintain good health. Working with its community to try to improve health would enhance a center's image as a good corporate citizen.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Minimal Access Bariatric Surgery

According to surgeon John Morton, of Stanford Hospitals & Clinics in California, the creation of several small incisions to perform surgeries such as laparoscopic bariatric surgery will become less and less common, as surgeons make one or no incision to perform bariatric surgery. Using one or no incision will likely produce less trauma for a patient and shorten a patient’s recovery time. Morton calls the surgery that uses one or no incisions “minimal access surgery.”

Morton performed minimal access surgery to revise a gastric bypass surgery. The surgery was done with the aid of an endoscope that was inserted into the throat, past the esophagus, into the stomach. Using a method called StomaphyX, pleats were formed in the gastric bypass stomach pouch, drawing the walls together so that the pouch became smaller. We discussed this revision method in our August 2, 2008 blog post.

Morton has also performed lap-band surgery via one incision in a patient’s belly button. Therefore, while laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery is the most popular form of minimally invasive weight loss or bariatric surgery -- at least in the U.S., other forms of minimally invasive surgery are also being used.

As the different minimally invasive bariatric surgical methods gain more prominence, we will be able to compare the pros and cons of the different methods. And we will be able to compare the pros and cons of minimally invasive methods for bariatric surgery with open bariatric surgical methods.

At any rate, weight loss centers that want to use technology to reduce trauma, while receiving good surgical outcomes, should monitor and collaborate with organizations engaged in bariatric surgical technique development or use.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Adapting to Genetic Make-up to Aid Weight Loss

Lifestyle modification is an important tool in most weight loss programs. Lifestyle modification usually includes exercise and a calorie-restricted diet. And the calorie-restricted-diet part of a weight-loss program has been found to be more important than the exercise part of the program.

Hence, deciding on a workable calorie-restricted diet is very important in weight loss. However, some persons have great difficulty losing weight using a calorie restricted diet. But as reported by Massachusetts based Interleukin Genetics, Inc., genes may play in role in this weight loss difficulty for some persons.

Researchers at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, including some from Interleukin Genetics, found that persons with a certain genetic make-up had more trouble losing weight on a calorie-restricted diet than persons who did not have the genetic make-up. However, when persons with the specific genetic make-up were put on a calorie-restricted diet that was low in glycemic content (the diet raised the blood sugar level very little), the persons on the diet had more success at losing weight. This may add support to the theory that understanding genetic make-up may be useful in weight loss.

More research is needed to confirm the theory, and to make good use of the research findings. Bariatric or weight loss centers should be especially interested in the findings. Diet is important in weight loss, even if you employ diet pills or you have undergone weight loss surgery. Therefore, understanding how genetic make-up can affect a diet is of utmost importance.
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