FDA Increases Recommendations for Fatally Flawed Obesity Surgery

obesity surgeryAn advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering a request by the medical company Allergan to significantly lower how obese someone must be to qualify for surgery using the company's Lap-Band device.

The FDA has already indicated that it believes people in the proposed new weight range who had the band experienced significant weight loss.

The New York Times reports:

"If the agency approves the change, the number of Americans eligible for the Lap-Band operation could easily double, ensuring more sales for Allergan and probably more insurance coverage for such operations.

But the proposed change, sought at a time when the obesity epidemic in the United States seems intractable, still leaves some people uneasy, in part because of side effects and failure rates."

About 70 percent of patients experienced those side effects, which include vomiting and pain, during a trial. A certain number of patients also simply die within 30 days of having the surgery.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Sales of Allergan's obesity products, particularly the Lap-Band, fell 4 percent in the first nine months of 2010, according to the New York Times. So their request to the FDA to lower the weight cut-off for the Lap-Band operation is very well-timed; it could double their potential market if the FDA approves the request.

Currently, in order to qualify for weight loss surgery you must have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above, or 35 if you have a related health problem like diabetes. Allergan's request would lower the cut-off for Lap-Band surgery to 35 with no health problems and 30 with a health problem.

To put this into perspective, an adult who has a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight, 30 or higher is considered obese. So this pushes the limit of those who qualify for weight-loss surgery to those who have just barely crossed the line into obesity.

Clearly this will push a whole new group of Americans -- numbering in the millions -- to begin to consider surgery as a solution for their weight loss -- a dismal and downright dangerous proposition.

88 Percent of Lap-Band Patients Experience Side Effects

If you are significantly overweight, losing weight is a key cornerstone to health, lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and a host of other diseases. But this doesn't mean you should take the drastic step of going under the knife to do so.

Gastric banding consists of surgically inserting a band around the top section of your stomach, and cinching it into a small pouch. Short-term, the lap band does produce significantly greater weight loss compared to lifestyle modification.

The procedure limits the amount of food you can consume, and the rapid weight loss is clearly the natural effect of this forced starvation.

But in exchange for this rapid weight loss, the health risks are VERY high, and long-term safety and effectiveness are questionable at best.

According to LapBand.com, one American clinical study that included a three-year follow-up reported that a staggering 88 percent of gastric banding patients experienced one or more adverse events, ranging from mild to severe.

Common complications from gastric banding included:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux, 34 percent
  • Band slippage and/or pouch dilation, 24 percent, (which means you'll need another surgery)
  • Stomach obstruction, 14 percent
  • Esophageal dilation and reduced esophageal function, 11 percent
  • Difficulty swallowing, 9 percent
  • Leaking or twisted access port into the stomach, 9 percent
  • Band eroding into the stomach, 1.3 percent, which requires band removal

The complications are often so debilitating that patients opt to have the bands removed completely. In the study noted above, 25 percent of the patients ended up getting the lap band permanently removed, two-thirds of them due the adverse events suffered.

So after having the surgery, the side effects were so severe that one in four chose to have the bands removed!

Serious Complications and Death Can Result

Would you be willing to give up your life to lose weight? This is a serious question as the surgery does at times end up in death. As stated directly on Lap-Band's safety information page:

"You should know that death is one of the risks. It can occur any time during the operation. It can also occur as a result of the operation. Death can occur despite all the precautions that are taken."

What else is buried on the Lap-Band safety page? Disclaimers letting you know that along with the laundry list of possible complications, there's a chance you may not lose any weight at all:

"Complications can cause reduced weight loss. They can also cause weight gain …  It is possible you may not lose much weight or any weight at all."

So weight loss surgery, which includes gastric banding and the more invasive gastric bypass, may seem like a simple quick fix, but it is NOT a safe solution because of the many negative long-term health consequences inherent with both of these surgical options.

Over 40 percent of weight loss surgeries result in major complications within six months, including black-outs, malnutrition, infection, kidney stones, bowel and gallbladder problems, liver failure, and, again, an increased risk of death.

All surgeries have inherent risks, but bariatric surgeries seem to have a much higher ratio of complications. In fact, you are far more likely to suffer an adverse event from these types of surgeries than not.

Despite this, and the fact that no long-term studies on the health and longevity of bariatric surgery patients have been published, the FDA is even considering approving gastric banding for teens aged 14 to 17!

Looking for a One-Two Diet Punch to Shed Pounds Fast?

If you have even considered surgery for weight loss, it's likely because you're at a point where you're ready to make a change. You want to lose weight and get healthy … now you just need to know where to start.

First, know that you don't have to risk serious health complications and death to lose weight. You can do this on your own by making some very straightforward changes to your lifestyle, starting with your diet.

Eating a diet based on processed foods is a well-known way to do two things that are nearly guaranteed to make you pack on the pounds:

  1. Interfere with your body's ability to regulate insulin
  2. Interfere with your body's ability to regulate leptin

This is why avoiding processed foods and eating according to your nutritional type is THE one-two diet punch that can finally make a dramatic difference in your weight and health.

Virtually all processed foods contain fructose, and it is very clear that fructose is the leading culprit for our obesity epidemic. That includes fructose in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), other added sugars, and natural fructose found in fruit and fruit juices.

Avoiding fructose means severely limiting or eliminating sodas, sugary drinks, and nearly all processed foods from your diet, as they are loaded with HFCS.

Fructose diminishes your feelings of fullness because it does not stimulate a rise in leptin, one of the most powerful hunger and fat storage regulators in your body. Fructose also reduces the amount of leptin crossing your blood-brain barrier by raising triglycerides.

Additionally, whereas glucose suppresses ghrelin (also known as "the hunger hormone," which makes you want more food), fructose, again, does not.

Fructose also increases your insulin levels, interfering with the communication between leptin and your hypothalamus, so your pleasure signals aren't extinguished. Your brain keeps sensing that you're starving, and prompts you to eat more.

For the sake of your health, I strongly advise keeping your fructose consumption below 25 grams per day, but this is virtually impossible if you eat a lot of processed foods.

When you eat for your nutritional type, meanwhile, you eat the foods that are right for your biochemistry, and these are the foods that will push your body toward its ideal weight. You will not be hungry and you will not feel deprived … only truly satisfied and energized.

If you want a step-by-step dietary approach, follow the advice in my comprehensive nutrition plan and use these seven tips to wean yourself off processed food.

Two More Steps to Achieve Your Ideal Weight

As you master your new dietary approach, there are two more factors that need to be addressed: your activity level and your emotions.

When you're trying to lose weight, a casual walk here and there is not going to cut it. Ideally, you need to exercise each and every day, and you need to do so at a challenging intensity.

Fortunately, there's a highly effective exercise strategy that can dramatically reduce your workout time and maximize your weight loss; it's called Peak Fitness, and I highly recommend you start using it, and its Sprint 8 exercises, today if your goal is to lose weight.

Next, you need to keep your stress levels under control, as for many emotional eating is the driving force behind their weight gain. If you're feeling overly anxious, depressed, lonely or bored, these emotions can lead you to overeat or binge on unhealthy foods if you're not tackling them directly.

So be sure you have a solid outlet for your emotions, like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), so you're not attempting to improve your emotional health with food.

And there you have it. A tried-and-true plan that will help you to lose weight and get fit -- without risking your health and your life with an invasive weight loss surgery.

+ Sources and References