• newswise-fullscreen Obesity a Common Denominator for Medical Problems, Says Loyola Doctor

    The new designation of obesity as a disease by the American Medical Association may bring more treatment options for the one-third of Americans who are obese, says Jessica Bartfield, MD, Loyola University Health System.

Newswise — One-third of all U.S. adults, 78 million, and 12 million children suffer from obesity, now officially called a disease by the American Medical Association. “We now know that excess adipose (fat) tissue is active rather than inert. It alters hormones, releases cytokines and inflammatory factors, all of which cause metabolic derangements,” said Jessica Bartfield, MD, bariatrician at the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care. “For the obese patient, even if the excess weigh is not causing any current medical problems, that patient faces a higher risk of multiple other disease.”

Obesity is diagnosed when the body mass index exceeds 30. “The obesity designation will hopefully prompt more physicians to properly screen for and treat obesity and it will support improved insurance coverage for obesity treatment,” said Bartfield. “Both will improve patients’ access to effective obesity treatment.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, treatment of obesity-related diseases increases the nation’s medical bill by more than $150 billion per year.

“Although lifestyle and behaviors highly influence a person’s weight, research continues to find multiple other factors including genetics, environment, hormonal balances and sleep patterns which underscore the complexity of this disease,” says Bartfield, who is part of Loyola’s multi--disciplinary team of psychiatrists, nutritonists, exercise physiologists and surgeons that work one-on-one with obese patients. “Obesity often acts as the common denominator for all other medical conditions a patient may suffer, including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, osteoarthritis or sleep apnea.”

Medicare currently funds medical care for an estimated 13 million obese Americans who are disabled or over 65, but many other insurance providers are not as generous.

In addition to a non-surgical medical weight loss program, Loyola offers surgical procedures including laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and also laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. Loyola takes an integrated team approach and education and support groups play an important role in all aspects of care. To learn more about medical and surgical weight loss at Loyola, or to sign up for a free information session, please call (800)504-1397 or visit loyolamedicine.com/bariatrics.

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