Obesity At Epidemic Proportions

By  //  December 15, 2012

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(VIDEO: Richard Cooper)

Central Florida Obesity Rate Is 29 Percent 

CENTRAL FLORIDA, USA – Obesity is a common, serious and costly condition in the United States, reaching epidemic proportions throughout America, including Central Florida. This epidemic has a significant impact on not only the obese person’s life, but his or her family as well. 

GO ANYWHERE and chances are you will see a person who is obese. Obesity is a multifactorial, expensive, genetically related, environmentally sensitive problem that we are only beginning to understand. From 1980 to 2000, obesity rates in the United States doubled from 13 to 27 percent and from 2000 to 2010, rates increased again. The Central Florida obesity rate is 29 percent and in Brevard County, it is approximately 30 percent. (Shutterstock image)

Fortunately, the surgical approach to managing weight loss, known as bariatric surgery, has proven very effective and in most cases results in medically significant weight loss that can change a person’s life forever.

According to the 1991 National Institute of Health (NIH) consensus statement, bariatric surgery is the only proven way to achieve long-term weight loss.

Since then, the many advances in bariatric surgical technique, more customized patient selection, and a better understanding of collaborative multidisciplinary bariatric management has had a profoundly positive impact on the ability for patients to lose weight and improve their overall health.

Weight Loss Surgery Saving & Changing Lives

Perennial ‘Hot-Topics’

Most people in Central Florida have at one time or another heard or read about bariatric surgery. Managing obesity and weight loss are perennial “hot-topics” in all modes of media, including social media.

THE ADJUSTABLE GASTRIC BAND is the safest surgery – it is reversible and can provide about 50 percent excess body weight loss.

With obesity rates steadily climbing, the push to lose weight is stronger than ever, and new weight loss clinics, diet fads and plans, medications and exercise fads pop up daily.

For adults, overweight and obesity ranges are determined by using weight and height to calculate a number called the “body mass index” (BMI). BMI is used because, for most people, it correlates with their amount of body fat. An adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese.

You can calculate your BMI using an online BMI calculator. An easy BMI calculator is at NewFitNewLife.com, which can help you understand where you are on the spectrum of health from a weight standpoint.  BMI helps physicians stratify risk of obesity-related complications and mortality.

Multifactorial Sensitive Problem

Go anywhere and chances are you will see a person who is obese.  Obesity is a multifactorial, expensive, genetically related, environmentally sensitive problem that we are only beginning to understand.

THE QUALITY OF LIFE IMPROVES for 95 percent of bariatric patients as obesity greatly increases the risk for the top three disease-related causes of death for Americans – cancer, heart disease and cerebrovascular conditions.

From 1980 to 2000, obesity rates in the United States doubled from 13 to 27 percent and from 2000 to 2010, rates increased again.  The Central Florida obesity rate is 29 percent and in Brevard County, it is approximately 30 percent, which means that nearly one third of Space Coast residents could qualify for bariatric surgery based on their current weight.

We know the basal metabolic rate (BMR), the number of calories needed to maintain current weight is based on metabolic “set points.”  These set points are genetically defined for each of us.  That can make a huge difference in whether a BMI is 25 or 45.

If calorie consumption and BMR are equal, weight should stay stable..  With additional exercise, which results in caloric consumption, weight should drop. For example, if a person’s BMR is 1500 and they consume 2,000 calories, there is surplus of 500 calories.

This surplus would translate to roughly one pound of fat gained per week (one pound of fat is 3,500 calories).  See how this can quickly escalate in regard to weight gain?  Yet weight gain and loss is more complicated than just math.

We are now finding that the body tracks diet and exercise history, and adapts with hormone and physiologic changes that can affect everything from what we eat, when we eat, and even our metabolic rate. All of this translates into increased difficulty losing weight.

Long Term Strategy Critical

So, how do we cure or at least manage the causes of obesity?  First, diet and exercise are still the healthiest, cheapest and safest ways to lose weight, and are staples of any weight loss regimen.

But, how successful are these alone? Statistically speaking, less than 5 percent of people with BMI over 30 will maintain long-term weight loss from any non-surgical treatment of obesity.  No diet pill, diet plan, exercise fad, or behavior modification has ever been effective long term.


What and how we eat are constantly changing and must be the focus for any effective weight loss approach. The foods we eat today have changed more dramatically in the last 30 years than in the past 30,000.

The only way we can adapt is to fundamentally change what and how we eat.  For patients with a BMI of 30 or greater, who struggle with persistently ineffective non-surgical weight loss therapies, bariatric surgery may be what is necessary to affect that fundamental change.

Comprehensive Weight Loss Facility

At Health First, we have created Viera Hospital’s New Fit Bariatrics program, offering a personalized, collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to obesity management on a platform that includes state of the art technology and the latest techniques in bariatric surgery.

We are Brevard County’s only comprehensive weight loss facility that includes surgeons who are fellowship trained in both robotic and bariatric surgery.

Because different bariatric surgical procedures each work in a different way, it is imperative to customize the surgical approach according to each individual patient’s condition and needs.

We offer options that include the adjustable gastric band, sleeve gastrectomy and the gastric by-pass, and which specifically best afford success for each individual case.

The adjustable gastric band is the safest surgery we offer. It is reversible and can provide about 50 percent excess body weight loss. So, if a patient were 100 pounds overweight, he/she would typically lose about 50 pounds following surgery.

A relatively new bariatric procedure called sleeve gastrectomy, which reduces the stomach to about 25 percent of its original size by surgical removal of a large portion of the stomach and removes a powerful hunger hormone, has proven to be very effective, providing about 60-70 percent excess body weight loss.

Finally, the gastric bypass is the gold standard in bariatric surgery, and can provide about 70-80 percent excess body weight loss.  Each surgery has its pros and cons that need to be considered on a patient-by-patient basis, but all are effective tools to cure obesity.

Bariatric Surgery Effective Treatment For Type 2 Diabetes

While most people wish they were “high school skinny,” bariatric surgery is about more than just looks.  While patients will look and feel better, for many, it is medically necessary to combat diseases such as hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, and diabetes.  In fact, bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for type 2 diabetes in the obese patient.

If you are struggling with your weight, have a BMI over 30 and are looking to significantly change your life for the better in 2013, I encourage you to learn more about bariatric surgery.  We at New Fit Bariatrics understand your problem and would be delighted to help you explore your options and discover “A New You.”


Dr. Nathan Allison

Dr. Nathan Allison is Board-certified in General Surgery and was first to be Fellowship-trained in Robotic Bariatric and General Surgery in the state of Florida. He attended undergraduate and Medical School at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville, Florida, and completed his Internship and Residency as well as a Fellowship in Minimally-Invasive Surgery, Endoscopic Surgery, and Robotics-Assisted Surgery-all at the University of Texas in Houston. His General Surgery practice is oriented to colon, gastrointestinal cancers; hernia repairs; gallbladder, appendix; as well as Robotics-assisted General Surgery and Bariatric (Weight-Loss) Surgery, including Adjustable Gastric Band, Gastric Sleeve, Gastric Bypass and Revisional Bariaric Surgery. To reach Dr. Allison call 321-434-9230.

HEALTH FIRST NEWFIT STAFF: Left to right – Janis Gower, Medical Assistant; Emily Redden, Insurance Specialist; Michele Pineault, RN – Bariatric Clinical Coordinator; Nathan Allison, MD, Medical Director; General & Bariatric Surgery, Kenneth Tieu, MD, General & Bariatric Surgery; Tracey Garner, Medical Assistant; and Dawn Walker, Office Manager. The group operates out of Health First’s Viera Hospital. (Image for SpaceCoastDaily.com)

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