How Safe Is Lap-Band Surgery?
A new analysis suggests the risks of gastric banding, a popular obesity procedure, may outweigh its potential weight-loss benefits. Belgian researchers tracked 82 patients who underwent the operation, in which Allergan Inc.'s Lap-Band device, a silicone band, is implanted around the top of the stomach to restrict food intake. They found that nearly half had to have the device removed 12 years later, often because it had begun to erode. About 40 percent suffered a major complication, like an infection or an enlarged stomach pouch (which can tolerate more food), and in more than 25 percent, the band ate through the stomach wall, according to a study published Monday in the Archives of Surgery. Still, patients did lose an average of 43 percent of their excess weight. "Patients should not expect too much from the procedure. If they do get the operation, they must commit themselves to lifelong and very tight follow-up," study author Jacques Himpens, who works with the European School of Laparoscopic Surgery at Saint Pierre University Hospital in Brussels, told Bloomberg. "I personally no longer perform band gastroplasty, but I think it is defendable for surgeons to continue doing this." Allergan says the Lap-Band device has been improved since the study began, which has eliminated some of these problems. More than 15 million Americans are considered severely obese, and in 2009, approximately 220,000 underwent some type of weight-loss surgery, up from 36,700 in 2000.
6 Ways to Help Yourself Reach a Healthy Weight
Anyone who tells you losing weight will be easy has never tried. But it can be done. Here are some tips to help you succeed.
Get sleep. This tip may seem counterintuitive: After all, if you're up and about, aren't you burning more calories than when you're conked out? Yet a host of studies have shown that getting too little sleep—five hours or less, in a study focusing on mothers with newborns—is associated with weight gain. One suspect is a group of hormones that regulate hunger; for unknown reasons, those are elevated when sleep is restricted. (Excessive sleep is also associated with obesity.) The sweet spot seems to be about six to eight hours, says Matthew Gillman, director of the obesity prevention program in the department of ambulatory care and prevention at Harvard Medical School and author of the mother-newborn study.
Use a pedometer. While 30 minutes of purposeful brisk exercise may suffice to keep your heart in shape, experts say that to lose weight, you need to accumulate 60 to 90 minutes a day. But the steps you take while working, shopping, and gardening count, too—so take thousands. Mayo Clinic endocrinologist James Levine coined the term neat (for nonexercise activity thermogenesis) to describe this unintentional exercise, and he has found that lean people burn 350 more calories a day than obese people doing the same amount. Recommended: Take 10,000 steps a day. Wearing a pedometer can help. [Read more: 6 Ways to Help Yourself Reach a Healthy Weight.]
Can Michelle Obama End Obesity? 5 Key Steps
When Michelle Obama promised in January 2010 to attack childhood obesity, she declared, "We have everything we need right now—we have the information, we have the ideas, and we have the desire to start solving America's childhood obesity problem. The only question is whether we have the will." So conquering the nation's weight problem should be relatively easy, right? Her 70 recommendations, which include everything from more gym to encouraging women to breastfeed, are based on some science. But nobody knows if they'll actually work, U.S. News reports. "I'm sure the first lady has every sort of concern for this problem and the belief that it's in our hands, but we've been studying this for years and still don't have precise answers," says Rudolph Leibel, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons who helped discover leptin, the hormone that regulates hunger. "We don't even know the precise causes." [Read more: Can Michelle Obama End Obesity? 5 Key Steps]
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