Obesity is as old as time itself and for many obesity is caused by medical or genetic problems. In today’s world, however, the alarming increase in the rate of obesity is very much a man-made problem, fired in part by the availability, and popularity, of the gastric bypass.
Advances in surgical techniques, not least the arrival of laparoscopic procedures, have made the gastric bypass a much simpler and more acceptable solution to the problem of obesity. What is more, the profile of the gastric bypass has been raised substantially in recent years helped in no small way by the number of celebrities choosing this method of weight loss.
The list of famous people following this route is long and includes the coach of the Notre Dame football team Charlie Weiss, the footballer Diego Maradona, the musician and harmonica virtuoso John Popper and the rock singer Randy Jackson to name just a few.
But why is obesity on the increase and is it truly a problem of our own making?
Despite the fact that there was a slight rise in the rate of obesity following world War II, the last twenty five years have seen a major growth in obesity, particularly in the USA. The precise reason for this is not known and there is fairly wide disagreement about the cause, but here are just a few reasons over which there is general agreement.
1. We are far less active as a society preferring to watch our favorite sport instead of getting out and playing the game ourselves and this is the majority of true amongst people who are overweight. perhaps more interestingly, if you lower the calorie intake for overweight people they do not become more active and if you raise the calorie intake for lean people they do not become less active. Weight loss, or gain, has little effect on a person’s level of activity, but that person’s level of activity does affect his weight.
2. Marketing today is highly sophisticated, if not subliminal, and this is particularly true in the world of fast and convenience foods. In addition, a large number of restrictions were removed for advertising made for children during the Reagan years and many of these restrictions covered such things as sweets and fast foods.
3. We are increasingly becoming a nation of two income households which means that people are now cooking far less at home. The number of people choosing home delivered meals, opting for fast food take out or frequenting their local restaurant has grown dramatically in recent years.
4. Trade subsidies negotiated during the past twenty five years have greatly cut the relative cost of food, not least that of sugar and sugar syrup. This in turn means that we now consume a lot more than we previously did.
5. Despite the present discussion over oil prices, the car is no longer considered a luxury and the two car family has become the norm. We do not think twice now about jumping into the car for even the shortest of journeys and many people wouldn’t even consider walking down to the shop at the end of the street.
6. Strangest of all perhaps is the effect that the craze for diet and exercise has had on the rise in obesity. We have become obsessed with dieting and many people diet as frequently as they change their clothes. Unfortunately it’s the case that most diets fail and, following a diet, it is common for your weight to rise to a level even higher than it was before you started. This pattern of falling and rising weight over time usually results in a steady underlying increase in weight towards obesity.
Each one of the factors mentioned here not only add to the growth in obesity but is also clearly made-made.
Now certainly gastric bypass provides one possible solution. However, even though the procedure is much simpler than it used to be and is gaining in popularity, it remains far from a pleasant experience and is not without its risks.
For those people who are obese today gastric bypass presents an excellent solution to their problem. For our children and grandchildren however perhaps the answer lies in preventing obesity rather than sitting back and waiting for the problem to arrive before resorting to gastric bypass surgery.