As the percentage of Americans being overweight or obese continues to increase (now at 70% of the population) the adverse and far reaching effects of this chronic disease are becoming more apparent. Obesity adversely affects almost every system in our bodies, especially our gastrointestinal system.
Obesity contributes to, and worsens, the effects of GERD (Commonly referred to as reflux) making this condition much more difficult to treat and control. This can lead to heartburn, chest pain, pulmonary issues, swallowing difficulties and an increase in the risk of esophageal cancer.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is seen in around 7 out of 10 people with obesity and can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and ultimate liver failure. Many times this condition exhibits no symptoms, and blood tests can remain normal for years while silent damage is occurring to the liver. In fact, NASH, a form of fatty liver disease, is rapidly becoming the number one reason in the United States for liver transplantation.
Additionally, there are several cancers of the GI tract directly related to obesity. Esophageal, gastric, liver, gallbladder, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers are all increased in this population. Recent data has shown an alarming trend in increasing colorectal cancer, especially in younger overweight individuals. This has prompted the American Cancer Society to recommend beginning screening colonoscopies at age 45. Symptoms such as rectal bleeding or change in bowel habits in a younger obese individual should be promptly evaluated with Colonoscopy.
The above conditions along with Diabetes, Hypertension, and high Cholesterol, continue to increase along with our obesity rates. Being overweight, without being obese, can also greatly increase your chance of serious illness and should be addressed as well.
So…what can be done? The first step is to schedule an appointment to be evaluated by a physician who is experienced in obesity treatment. If you are obese this could be the appointment that saves your life. If you are overweight but not yet obese, this is the next best thing you can do to help prevent the debilitating conditions discussed here.
85% of our Weight Loss clients have been able to stop or reduce reflux medication usage through effective weight loss and lifestyle management. We also see improvement in fatty liver with proper weight management.
At Premier Gastroenterology we have a concerned and dedicated Obesity Medicine team to help design an individual program to help you achieve your goals; and our weight loss team physicians are the first Gastroenterologists/Obesity Medicine Specialists in Arkansas who are trained and experienced in management of Orbera and Obalon intragastric balloons to enhance weight loss.