Parallel Epidemics: Obesity and Diabetes in the United States

Type II Diabetes is a medical condition in which the body cannot effectively use insulin produced by the pancreas.  As the incidence of diabetes has increased dramatically over the last 10 years, a clear cause-and-effect pattern has emerged.   This pattern demonstrates that the epidemic of diabetes correlates most strongly with a single cause–obesity.  As the prevalence of American adults who are obese climbed from 10 percent to 20.9 percent between 1985 and 2001, the prevalence of diabetes increased by 61 percent.  Even children are developing Type II (“adult-onset”) diabetes at an alarming rate–a rare occurrence just twenty years ago.

This combination of obesity and diabetes is deadly.  Every year more than 300,000 people die in the United States as a direct result of obesity-induced illnesses and diabetes alone is the 6th leading cause of preventable death in America.  Fortunately, this unrelenting progression of disease can be controlled, and even reversed, with weight loss and permanent weight control.

Statistical evaluation of different methods of weight control has clearly demonstrated that non-surgical weight loss programs have minimal success for severely obese individuals.  In contrast, weight loss surgery (Bariatric Surgery) will result in highly significant weight loss and long term weight control in the vast majority of patients who undergo the operation.  In the end, 80% of all diabetics will have their diabetes controlled or cured after gastric bypass, when performed correctly. This cure rate for diabetes, using surgery-induced weight loss, is even higher for those who have had diabetes for a shorter period of time.  In fact, for patients who have been diabetic for less than 5 years, 95% will be cured after gastric bypass surgery.  With these dramatic results and compelling statistics, every effort to prevent the devastating effects of diabetes should be taken; obesity should be treated aggressively, and severely obese patients should consider bariatric surgery as their most successful option.

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