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 Officially Classified as a Disease

by Columbia Surgery on June 19, 2013

86544871In 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 managing obesity. It is also likely to encourage physicians to take obesity more seriously as they treat their patients with diabetes and heart disease, which are associated with obesity.

While the AMA’s decision reflected a majority vote, some experts oppose the classification of obesity as a disease. According to a report issued by the AMA’s Council on Science and Public Health, opponents of the resolution argued that “obesity results from personal choices to overeat or live a sedentary lifestyle.”

Whether or not one agrees with the AMA’s designation, obesity clearly impacts patients’ lives in myriad ways. A recent ABC News story shared 7 Surprising Effects of Obesity, not just on health but all facets of life.

For example, consider the shrinking wallet effect: obese women earn close to $9000 less than thinner colleagues per year, and for males, the difference is close to $5000 per year on average.

Marc Bessler, MD, Director, Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery, discusses the association between excess weight, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and infertility, just one of the many compelling health reasons to maintain a healthy weight.

See the June 18, 2013 New York Times story about the AMA’s decision, and the arguments for and against the resolution.

To read about the other surprising health effects of obesity, please see the June 12, 2013 ABC News story.

More about the Health Risks of Obesity is available at the Center for Metabolic and Weight Loss Surgery or by calling 212.305.4000.


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 […]

Read the full article →

Metabolic syndrome in 40s linked to TV, lack of exercise, at age 16

February 26, 2013

TweetThe first prospective study examining lifestyle habits during the teen years and metabolic syndrome in adulthood was published online January 22, 2013 in Diabetes Care by Patrik Wennberg (Umeå University, Sweden) and colleagues. The study recorded the television viewing habits and leisure-time physical activity levels of about 1000 16-year-olds in northern Sweden. About 88% of […]

Read the full article →

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. […]

Read the full article →

The Fight to Get Bariatric Surgery Approved for Adolescent Patients

March 7, 2012

TweetIn December, National Public Radio (NPR) ran an article Insurers Often Don’t Pay For Teen Weight-Loss Surgery describing the difficult situation facing adolescents in need of weight loss surgery. For adults, standard bariatric procedures are usually covered, whether by employers, Medicaid, or some other form of insurance; in teens, however, coverage is not so easily […]

Read the full article →

Bariatric Patient Chooses Sleeve Gastrectomy and “Couldn’t Be Happier”

February 7, 2012
Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

Young, Obese, and In Surgery

January 13, 2012

Tweet“It’s like having a precancerous condition that you can treat rather than waiting till it’s cancer,” says Jeffrey L. Zitsman, Director of the Center for Adolescent Bariatric Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, in a New York Times article January 8, 2012. Yet despite the prospect of a lifetime of obesity, ostracism, and diseases such […]

Read the full article →

Stories of Hope: Alexander Vasquez

November 16, 2011

TweetFor as long as he could remember, Alexander Vasquez struggled with his weight. His weight rose with the years — 100 pounds in kindergarten, 400 pounds by 9th grade. That trend was briefly reversed each summer, when he spent several months in the Dominican Republic playing outdoors with friends and relatives, only to resume again […]

Read the full article →