A recent article from Scientific American discusses a new research study; the study found that mice that had been given a bariatric surgery experienced important changes in certain neural pathways and hormone production, as well as a preference for smaller, less fatty, meals. The new research jibes with what many of our patients have been reporting to us here at BHP: that weight loss procedures make eating less a great deal easier, both in the short and long term.
People who are not obese often assume that severe obesity is a character issue, and that all that is required to permanently lose weight is a little effort and self-control. This vastly underestimates the sheer difficulty of defeating obesity. In fact, the reason behind the popularity of bariatric surgery is that it treats the most difficult aspect of weight loss, which is that people who need to lose large amounts of weight must be able to disregard a host of signals from the brain, many hormonally induced, which tell an individual that he or she needs to eat more. Even though an individual may know intellectually that she has eaten enough food, these signals are essentially identical to what we experience in actual hunger, and are just as hard to ignore. Much as occurred in the recent study, procedures such as sleeve gastrectomy have been shown to greatly reduce the presence of certain hunger-inducing hormones. Ordinarily, the production of these hormones tends to increase in production as individuals lose weight, sabotaging most peoples’ best efforts at weight loss.
Our bodies appear to be designed to maintain their present weight, whatever that weight is. It’s no wonder, then, that weight loss is a significant challenge, whether patients are trying to lose 100 or more pounds, or even a fairly small fraction of that. They note that, while bariatric surgery is intended for patients who qualify as severely obese – which means having a BMI (body mass index) of 40 or greater, or 35 or greater with related health problems – options also exist for individuals with less weight to lose.
Specifically, BHP notes that they offer the Orbera gastric balloon, a temporary, non-surgical procedure which reduces the available space in the stomach and makes overeating less comfortable. The clinic says that the procedure has long been available in Europe and is ideal for individuals who may be suffering from obesity, but who are not heavy enough to qualify for a surgical treatment. They also note that individuals who may only wish to lose a relatively small amount of weight can often benefit from the assistance of their skilled weight loss coaches, who can provide useful tips and emotional support as patients work to lose weight and establish more healthy eating habits.