A US-wide survey has found 79% of Americans believe bariatric surgery should only be pursued as a last resort and 60% agreed that bariatric surgery is a shortcut to losing weight. The survey, conducted by Ipsos for Orlando Health, revealed common stigmas that may deter those who qualify for surgery from pursuing the treatment they need.
"Treatment plans for obesity are tailored to each individual patient based on things like body mass index and existing medical conditions and may include medication, lifestyle changes, counselling and bariatric surgery," said Dr Andre Teixeira, medical director and bariatric surgeon at Orlando Health Weight Loss and Bariatric Surgery Institute. "By taking this personalised approach, we are extremely successful in reversing health issues caused by obesity, from diabetes to heart disease. But if someone's decision is affected by those who think they don't need surgery or that make them feel like a failure if they have surgery, that greatly diminishes their chances of losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle long term."
The survey also found that 61% of respondents believe exercise and diet should be enough.
"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," added Teixeira. "Surgery is simply a tool to jumpstart that change. 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. Guidelines by the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders (IFSO)" were recently updated for the first time since 1991 to expand access to bariatric surgery, which is less invasive and safer than ever, thanks to advancements in laparoscopic and robotic surgery techniques. Yet only 1% of those who are clinically eligible undergo surgical treatment for obesity."
"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 Dr Muhammad Ghanem, a bariatric surgeon at Orlando Health Weight Loss and Bariatric Surgery Institute. "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. They often even shed a tear because they've struggled with their weight all their lives and finally have some validation."