HealthWACH: Weight Loss Therapy

HealthWACH: Weight Loss Therapy

COLUMBIA (WACH) - About 35 percent of adults in the United States are considered obese, according to the CDC. Obesity can cause heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Obesity costs the U.S. $147 billion a year. In fact, the medical costs for obese people are $1,500 higher than those who are not obese. African Americans have the highest rates of obesity, at about 49 percent, and Hispanics have the next highest rate at about 40 percent. A person is considered obese if their weight is 20 percent or more above normal weight, or if their body mass index (BMI) is above 30. BMI is calculated based on your weight and height.

Gender and genetics can lead to obesity, and so can environmental factors, physical activity, illness or medication. Lifestyle changes, medications, and sometimes surgery are options for treating obesity. Doctors are divided about calling obesity a disease or not, despite it being perhaps the greatest public health issue facing Americans. Labelling it as a disease is seen by some as a way of absolving personal responsibility from the condition. While others think labelling it a disease could lead to a different, more holistic, and more serious way of thinking about obesity.

Aspiration therapy is now being tested to treat obesity. Itâ??s one of the more radical approaches. It reduces calories stored in the body. To make this happen, a tube is placed in the stomach. The tube is connected to a poker size chip skin port outside of the abdomen; 20 minutes after a meal the patient empties a portion of the stomach contents into a toilet by connecting the handheld device to the skin port. The process takes 5 to 10 minutes. The â??emptyingâ?? or aspiration process removes a third of the food so the body still receives calories it needs to function. In a U.S. clinical trial patients lost about 46 pounds in the first year. Critics say the pump can get clogged because it can't break up foods like cauliflower, steak, pretzels, and Chinese food. Dehydration, stomach irritation, and electrolyte deprivation are also a concern.