Helping a Loved-One Overcome Obesity is Tricky

Eric L. Zielinski

Obesity is not just a vanity issue, it is a serious life-threatening illness. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. In fact, according to a 2009 study published in the medical journal PLoS, obesity ranks as the second cause of preventable death in the U.S. responsible for an estimated 216,000 deaths; second only to tobacco use.

Trends in Obesity Treatment

With obesity on the rise, it is no surprise that bariatric surgery rates are trending upwards as well. For those opting to take this route, there are three main options for bariatric surgery: adjustable gastric banding; sleeve gastrectomy; and “Roux-en-Y” gastric bypass. reports that gastric bypass is the most popular procedure because it results in greater weight loss and less weight regain. It also performs best in terms of resolving obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. However, gastric banding has been recently praised for being a reversible procedure and that it causes fewer long-term metabolic problems.

Risk in Bariatric Surgery

According to the Mayo Clinic, common risks to bariatric surgery include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection
  • Adverse reactions to anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Lung or breathing problems
  • Leaks in your gastrointestinal system
  • Death (rare)

Longer-term risks and complications of weight-loss surgery vary depending on the type of surgery. They can include:

  • Bowel obstruction
  • Dumping syndrome, causing diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
  • Gallstones
  • Hernias
  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
  • Malnutrition
  • Stomach perforation
  • Ulcers
  • Vomiting
  • Death (rare)

Am I Really Overweight?

It may be difficult to imagine but many overweight and obese people are oblivious to their problem. When approached by someone about their weight many ask themselves, “Am I really overweight?” There is good reason, however, for them to think this way.Forgetting, for example, that they were forced to purchase two seats on their last airplane flight because they did not fit in one seat or that their life insurance premiums are higher than someone who is within acceptable weight guidelines, many obese people see themselves as “normal.”This begs the question regarding weight and obesity: “What is normal?”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), currently more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7 percent) are obese and the numbers are rising. Subsequently, when considering whether or not to approach a loved-one who is obese, it is vital to keep in mind that being overweight is the “new normal” and your friend or family member may not realize that there’s a problem.

Approaching a Friend or Family Member Who is Obese

Like many other issues, approaching a loved-one who is obese is not simply matter of laying out the facts. Since many emotions come into play, saying the wrong thing can end up backfiring and shutting down all future chances of helping your friends and family realizing true health and wellness. Consider consulting with a professional counselor first before approaching a loved-one about their obesity. They can offer some key talking points that may end up saving someone’s life.

Sources for this article include:

About the Author: Health coach, life coach, author and speaker, Eric L. Zielinski is a Chiropractor who continues to seek out ways to influence the world toward sustainable living and alternative health care. As a writer Eric’s work can be seen in a wide variety of venues including Christian, health/wellness, and academic peer-reviewed literature. To read more articles by Eric, please visit
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