Losing weight isn’t solely about looking and feeling good. Healthcare professionals are beginning to realize obesity is an incurable chronic disease that causes inflammation and multiple comorbidities, including heart disease and cancer. “It’s important that providers from different disciplines engage patients in life-long treatments to keep the disease under control in order to prevent it from having an adverse impact on their overall health,” says Barham Abu-Dayyeh, MD, MPH, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Bariatric surgery has evolved significantly over the last 20 years, from open procedures with high complication rates and long hospital stays to laparoscopic procedures with lower risks and reduced lengths of recoveries. Despite these advances, only about 2% of overweight individuals who qualify for weight-loss surgery elect to have it done because of a lack of insurance coverage and worries about the invasiveness of procedures that permanently alter their stomachs and GI tracts without the guarantee of meaningful or sustained weight loss. “Patients grow frustrated with years of living with excess pounds,” says Dr. Abu-Dayyeh, who focuses on the development of minimally invasive endoscopic therapies for obesity and gastrointestinal and metabolic diseases. “There’s now a spectrum of tools available to help them lose weight quickly.”