Sunday, November 20, 2011

Parents' Weight Loss: A Weapon in Childhood Obesity

We’ve all heard that the physical environment we live in greatly effects our lifestyle, and that environment plays a significant role in the worldwide obesity and overweight problem. Indeed, we are influenced by what we are exposed to. For example, if we are consistently surrounded by unhealthy food, we will eventually eat the food. Likewise, if those around us are overweight or obese, we will more easily accept our overweight or obese state, and do little about it. However, if our environment is filled with healthy food and healthy weight people, we might just eat more healthy food and seek a healthy weight.

In fact, a study has shown that when one person in a family loses weight, others in the family may be enticed to follow suit. Further, the study researchers suggest that if parents in the home engage in physical activity and eat healthy diets, these actions could influence the children in the household, providing a weapon in the fight against childhood obesity.

The study was done by a group from the Stanford University School of Medicine. The researchers concluded that "performing a gastric bypass operation on one patient has a halo of positive effect on the weight, eating habits, activity level, and health behaviors of the entire family.”

Further, the researchers suggest that the childhood obesity rate in families where the mother has had gastric bypass surgery is 52% lower than for "the same mothers before the surgery." The study demonstrates that one person’s weight loss -- at least weight loss resulting from gastric bypass surgery -- has an effect on other members of the family. And the effect no doubt extends to weight loss resulting from other weight loss methods, since all weight loss methods require lifestyle changes. And it’s the lifestyle changes that the family member sees on an ongoing basis.

Therefore, getting parents to make healthy lifestyle changes may be an approach to getting children to make healthy lifestyle changes. And if the parents' lifestyle changes lead to weight loss, the children’s lifestyle changes will likely lead to weight loss and healthy weight control.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Telemedicine Improves Gastric Bypass Surgery

Today, bariatric surgery is becoming a more acceptable treatment for some forms of obesity. And the surgery is effective. In many cases, bariatric surgery leads to more weight loss than diet, exercise or drugs. Gastric bypass surgery is probably the most popular form of weight loss surgery, and telehealth may be a way to make the surgery more effective.

Telehealth is defined as "the use of telecommunication technologies to provide health care services and access to medical and surgical information for training and educating health care professionals and consumers, to increase awareness and educate the public about health-related issues, and to facilitate medical research across distances."

Telemedicine, a subset of telehealth, may be defined as “[t]he use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications for the health and education of the patient or healthcare provider and for the purpose of improving patient care. Telemedicine includes consultative, diagnostic, and treatment services.” And a recent study concluded that telemedicine can be an important part of preoperative and postoperative consultation for the gastric bypass patient.

The study was carried out by a set of Midwestern Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs). Twenty eight patients who lived an average of 324.5 miles from a bariatric surgery center comprised the subjects in the study. All the patients were high risk patients.

When compared to gastric bypass patients not in the study, the VAMCs patients fared very well. Indeed, it was concluded that ‘[a] cooperative network using teleconference and computerized records facilitated bariatric surgery in high-risk, remotely located VA patients with high patient satisfaction and without compromising surgical outcomes.’ The use of telemedicine eliminated 19,000 miles and 69 days of travel.

The study provides evidence that telemedicine can help a bariatric surgical patient and the surgical team manage preoperative preparation and post operative weight loss and weight maintenance. The results should be of interest to all bariatric centers -- surgical and non-surgical. Many bariatric centers already put special emphasis on counseling. Telemedicine approaches could improve that counseling.

Centers that don’t already do so might consider using telemedicine as a tool in motivating and imparting useful information their patients. Having telemedicine in place for counseling might boost a patient's chances of meeting weight loss goals. And telemedicine could enhance a center's reputation.

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