There is an increasingly small minority of invariably thin people who ignore the research, and the experiences of just about every person who has struggled with their weight, who state that obesity would cease to be a problem if obese and overweight people simply learned a little self-control. The rest of us know that weight loss is hard and, as we’re learning, the more weight most people tend to lose, the more difficult it becomes to keep it off. One of the primary reasons that the weight loss surgeries we perform here at Beverly Hills Physicians for severely obese patients seems to work is that, aside from making it uncomfortable to eat, sleeve gastrectomy reduces the production of hormones that are associated with the urges to eat that make, weight loss difficult even for people trying to lose ten or twenty pounds and next to impossible for most people with severe obesity.
The truth is that the statistics on defeating obesity without a weight loss surgery are dismal and, while it’s not a magic wand, bariatric procedures improve the odds drastically simply because eating less becomes less of a struggle without the nagging feelings of hunger that seem to only get stronger over time, as well as the physical issues associated with trying to fit too much food in a much smaller stomach.
Still, in our celebrity culture, we hear stories not only of people like gastric sleeve patients like Rosie O’Donnell, but of severely obese celebrities who appear to have been able to lose very large amounts of weight without surgery. A few years back, magician/comedian/actor Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller managed to drop 100 pounds off his 6’7” frame simply, it appears, by switching to a diet dominated by stewed potatoes and other vegetables. More recently, Jillette was thanked for his recent book on his weight loss by the formerly very obese and famously profane filmmaker/comedian/podcaster Kevin Smith, who has lost a very dramatic amount of weight since February.
So, does that mean people considering a weight loss surgery, who have already tried and failed to lose weight multiple times, should blame themselves for not having the same kind of resolve as Jillette and Smith. The easy answer is “No.” First of all, while we definitely wish them the very best, both of these gentlemen’s weight loss is still fairly recent. Also, it’s notable that both men were motivated by very serious health scares. In Smith’s case, it was a sudden heart attack that, but for a well-timed hospital visit, would likely have killed him. Few incentives are as strong as wanting to avoid death, and that’s amplified by the fact that both men are fathers who’d like to be around for as much of their offspring’s lives as possible. It also certainly doesn’t hurt that famous people are usually wealthy enough to hire personal nutritionists and chefs to ease their way.
The fact of the matter is that none of us should wait until a doctor warns us that another six months of obesity will likely be our last. For most of us, the most serious health harms related to being very overweight are mainly abstract concepts, while impossible to ignore hungry feelings are very much in the here and now. If you’re severely obese and concerned about your health, the fact of the matter is that trying to will yourself thin is a risky concept. Sometimes, the healthiest and smartest solution to a problem is the one that makes things just a little easier. There are no extra points for difficulty in weight loss.