Sunday, April 20, 2008

Weight Loss Surgery vs. Diet and Exercise

Everyone who is thinking about weight loss surgery has heard it:

Have you considered going back on Jenny Craig/Weight Watchers/Atkins/South Beach? That's worked for you before.

Or maybe it's:

You just haven't found the right diet for you. Have you tried South Beach/The Blood Diet/Jenny Craig/Weight Watchers? How about seeing a nutritionist?

First of all, did those other diets really "work" if you gained all the weight back? That's not my definition of working.

Secondly, if all those other diets didn't work, why will this new one be any different? We know scientifically what happens when people go on diets and we know scientifically why it doesn't work. Each new diet that comes along is just a twist on an old formula that has been proven not to work.

We know that yet there is still this resistance to weight loss surgery as a way to lose weight. The idea that diet and exercise is the "right way" to lose weight is so deeply imbedded in our culture that any other way is treated with suspicion no matter what science says.

Only about 2% of all people who chose diet and exercise to lose weight are able to successfully lose weight and keep it off for more than a few years. We know that and we've know that for years. We also know the success rate is is much higher for people who have weight loss surgery. Somewhere from 42 to 76% of people who have WLS lose a significant amount of weight and keep it off.

Let's do the math. 2% vs. 42 to 76% So WLS is 21 to 38 times more effective than dieting and exercise.

It's not perfect. The average weight loss is only about 50% of excess weight and some people do gain it back. But compared to diet and exercise alone, WLS is a miracle cure.

Too bad it's not as socially acceptable as all those ways that don't work.
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