Weight Loss Surgery for a Broken Hunger Mechanism

by Columbia Surgery on April 14, 2014

Medically induced obesity made headlines last month as a 200-pound, 12-year-old girl from Texas underwent weight loss surgery. Her hunger mechanism, the complex system of neurotransmitters and chemicals that told her brain she was full, had been damaged during brain surgery.

Obesity Has Many Causes Blog

Medically induced obesity can be caused by medications, or as in the case of this girl a health condition. Steroids, antipsychotics and antidepressants are the major reason for drug-related weight gain. While an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), conditions in the hypothalamus, (a portion of the brain above the brain stem), or issues with the pituitary gland (at the base of the brain), are the common reasons for health-related obesity.

Weight loss surgery for medically induced obesity may not be as successful as surgery performed for other obesity reasons according to Dr. Marc Bessler of the Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery. If that hunger mechanism is broken, the size of the stomach won’t make a difference. The patient may still have a difficult time feeling full.

Yet, as in this girl’s situation, there is case to be made for a sleeve gastrectomy. The outcomes may not be as successful, but it provides some relief from related health conditions and adds a quality to life that wouldn’t exist otherwise.


Obesity Kills More Americans Than Previously Thought

by Columbia Surgery on September 5, 2013

Most Americans are well aware that obesity is a serious health concern. We have learned that obesity can lead to a host of problems, including diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, and heart failure. Most people also know that several of these conditions carry serious and sometimes life-threatening implications. However, a new study performed at Columbia University shows that obesity, and the diseases associated with it, is an even deadlier condition than previously believed.

Obesity Kills Image (1)

The new study, The Impact of Obesity on U.S. Mortality Levels: The Importance of Age and Cohort Factors in Population Estimates, found that in recent decades obesity has accounted for 18% of deaths among Black and White Americans between the ages of 40 and 85. It found black women had the highest rate of death from obesity at 27%, followed by white women (21%), white men (15%), and black men (5%). These figures, which are far higher than previous estimates, are indicative of a problem that researchers believe will only continue to worsen in the coming years.

Timothy S. Paul, of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, describes the researchers’ findings in his article, “Obesity Kills More Americans Than Previously Thought.” He explains that obesity is deadlier than we thought it was, and it is a problem that may only get worse in the next few decades because this generation is growing up in an environment where people have unprecedented access to unhealthy foods and drinks, and where more and more of one’s peers are obese. These facts only compound a problem that already has a huge effect on our healthcare system.

Due to rising health concerns and results of studies such as these, doctors are advocating greater awareness and more effective treatment of obesity. Dr. Marc Bessler, Chief of Bariatric Surgery at NYP/Columbia, offered his insight into these new findings.

“Given the increased risk of obesity documented in this study, effective treatment is even more important. The costs and risks of treatment with medication and even surgery must be weighed against the cost of obesity in mortality, quality of life and health cost dollars. While prevention efforts can help prevent further increases in incidence of obesity, we must make use of what we have available to mitigate the effects of this deadly disease in the many who already suffer from it.”

To learn more about this study, and why obesity is an ever-increasing concern in America, read Timothy Paul’s article here:

“Obesity Kills More Americans Than Previously Thought”




Obesity Officially Classified as a Disease

June 19, 2013

TweetIn its annual meeting June 18, 2013, delegates from the American Medical Association (AMA) overwhelmingly approved a resolution recognizing obesity “as a disease state with multiple pathophysiology aspects requiring a range of interventions to advance obesity treatment and prevention.” This decision is likely to affect national health policy and health insurance coverage for evaluating and […]

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Alcohol Abuse and Weight Loss Surgery

March 14, 2013

TweetConsidering weight loss surgery? You will need to consider many issues related to post-surgery lifestyle including changes in diet and exercise. And in case you are not up to date with your subscription to the Journal of the American Medical Association, here is a reminder to please add alcohol to your cautionary list. A study […]

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GERD: Incisionless endoscopic treatment now available

February 15, 2013

TweetBreaking news in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): NYP/Columbia now offers an incisionless alternative to continuous medications or open surgical procedures for patients suffering from severe reflux disease. Gastroesophageal reflux disease occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter opens spontaneously or does not close properly, and stomach contents rise up into the esophagus, causing […]

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Spotlight on Staff: Nancy Restuccia, MS, RD, CDN

November 15, 2012

TweetBariatric Dietitian, Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. As a bariatric dietitian, Nancy Restuccia counsels patients undergoing weight-loss surgery, offering specific nutrition plans and behavioral support. As Marc Bessler, MD, Director of the Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery, explains, “Nancy has worked with me for 12-plus years. […]

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U.S. News & World Report Recognizes 33 Top Doctors at NYP/Columbia Department of Surgery

September 21, 2012

TweetCongratulations to the thirty three surgeons at the Department of Surgeon for being recognized by U.S. News & World Report in their 2012 list of Top Doctors. Of these top-ranked surgeons, U.S. News further identified seventeen physicians as being in the top one percent in the nation in their specialties. U.S. News & World Report’s […]

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NY Magazine Recognizes 16 Top Docs at NYP/Columbia

June 7, 2012

TweetCongratulations to sixteen surgeons at the Department of Surgery for being named top doctors by New York Magazine. This annual list recognizes 1160 physicians from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut who are considered top in their fields of expertise. This year, the magazine recognized faculty from nine divisions at NYP/Columbia Department of Surgery: Plastic […]

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For Lasting Weight Loss, Surgery is Not Enough

February 3, 2012

TweetBrowse the success stories in the weight loss section of the Department of Surgery’s website and you’ll notice a running trend beyond the impressive drops in weight maintained by these patients. They are all enjoying new activities, exercising, overhauling their eating habits, and one has even become a personal trainer. These new habits and lifestyles […]

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Teens and Weight Loss Surgery

September 1, 2010

TweetThe spiraling obesity epidemic has become a top concern not only for doctors and weight loss centers, but for the government, schools, and even the food industry. The options to treat obesity are fairly uncomplicated: a healthy diet and more physical activity. Yet these deceptively simple steps remain a formidable challenge, leading increasing numbers of […]

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