Most Americans’ views about obesity and bariatric surgery are colored by stigmas, according to a new survey from the healthcare system at Orlando Health.
For example, most Americans believe that weight loss surgery should be pursued only as a last resort and that bariatric surgery is a shortcut to shedding pounds, the survey found.
Common stigmas could be deterring people who qualify for bariatric surgery from pursuing it, according to Orlando Health, located in Florida.
“Bariatric surgery is by no means an easy way out. If you have the courage to ask for help and commit to doing the hard work of changing your diet and improving your life, you’re a champion in my book,” said Andre Teixeira, MD, medical director and bariatric surgeon at Orlando Health Weight Loss and Bariatric Surgery Institute, Orlando, Florida.
“Surgery is simply a tool to jumpstart that change,” he said. “After surgery, it is up to the patient to learn how to eat well, implement exercise into their routine, and shift their mindset to maintain their health for the rest of their lives.”
The survey results were published in January by Orlando Health.
The national survey, conducted for Orlando Health by the market research firm Ipsos in early November 2023, asked 1017 US adults whether they agreed or disagreed with several statements about weight loss and bariatric surgery. The statements and responses are as follows:
- “Weight loss surgery is a shortcut to shedding pounds” — 60% strongly or somewhat agreed, 38% strongly or somewhat disagreed, and the remainder declined to answer.
- “Weight loss surgery is cosmetic and mainly impacts appearance” — 37% strongly or somewhat agreed, 61% strongly or somewhat disagreed, and the remainder declined to respond.
- “Exercise and diet should be enough for weight loss” — 61% strongly or somewhat agreed, 37% strongly or somewhat disagreed, and the remainder declined to respond.
- “Weight loss surgery should only be pursued as a last resort” — 79% strongly or somewhat agreed, 19% strongly or somewhat disagreed, and the remainder declined to answer.
- “Surgery should be more socially accepted as a way to lose weight” — 46% strongly or somewhat agreed, 52% strongly or somewhat disagreed, and the remainder declined to respond.
Men’s responses indicated that they are more likely to have negative views toward weight loss surgery than women. For example, 66% of men vs 54% of women respondents see weight loss surgery as a shortcut to losing weight. Conversely, 42% of men vs 50% of women said that surgery should be a more socially accepted weight loss method.
Opinions that might interfere with the willingness to have weight loss surgery were apparent among people with obesity. The survey found that 65% of respondents with obesity and 59% with extreme obesity view surgery as a shortcut. Eighty-two percent of respondents with obesity and 68% with extreme obesity see surgery as a last resort.
At the end of 2022, the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders updated their guidelines for metabolic and bariatric surgery for the first time since 1991, with the aim of expanding access to surgery, Orlando Health noted. However, only 1% of those who are clinically eligible end up undergoing weight loss surgery, even with advancements in laparoscopic and robotic techniques that have made it safer and less invasive, the health system added.
“Because of the stigma around obesity and bariatric surgery, so many of my patients feel defeated if they can’t lose weight on their own,” said Muhammad Ghanem, MD, a bariatric surgeon at Orlando Health.
“But when I tell them obesity is a disease and that many of its causes are outside of their control, you can see their relief,” he said. “They often even shed a tear because they’ve struggled with their weight all their lives and finally have some validation.”
Obesity treatment plans should be tailored to patients on the basis of individual factors such as body mass index, existing medical conditions, and family history, Teixeira said.
Besides bariatric surgery, patients also may consider options such as counseling, lifestyle changes, and medications including the latest weight loss drugs, he added.
The clinical approach to obesity treatment has evolved, said Miguel Burch, MD, director of general surgery and chief of minimally invasive and gastrointestinal surgery at Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles, California, who was not involved in the survey.
“At one point in my career, I could say the only proven durable treatment for obesity is weight loss surgery. This was in the context of patients who were morbidly obese requiring risk reduction, not for a year or two but for decades, and not for 10-20 pounds but for 40-60 pounds of weight loss,” said Burch, MD, who also directs the bariatric surgery program at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, Torrance, California.
“That was a previous era. We are now in a new one with the weight loss drugs,” Burch said. “In fact, it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to serve so many patients with an option other than just surgery.”
Still, Burch added, “we have to change the way we look at obesity management as being either surgery or medicine and start thinking about it more as a multidisciplinary approach to a chronic and potentially relapsing disease.”
Carolyn Crist is a health and medical journalist who reports on the latest studies for Medscape, MDedge, and WebMD.
Source link : https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/most-americans-believe-bariatric-surgery-shortcut-should-be-2024a100024q?src=rss
Publish date : 2024-01-31 09:35:11
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