Q&A Topic: Obesity, Weight Loss, and Bariatric Surgery

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Mitchell S. Roslin, MD, FACS, F

Q. Are diets and exercise valuable tools in weight loss?

A. People who are overweight—but not yet obese—can lose weight with regular exercise and healthy eating. Regular exercise and a sensible diet are important to avoid weight gain. It’s much easier to prevent weight gain in the first place than to correct it. We need to re-engineer our society—children need more opportunities to be active and workplaces need to encourage more movement.

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Q. Why aren’t these tools particularly effective for most obese patients?

A. While a healthy diet and exercise are great tools for preventing weight gain, they’re not very effective tools for weight loss in people who are already obese. Once someone has become obese, they begin to face barriers that make it almost impossible to get their weight under control. Even if someone who is obese does manage to lose weight through diet and exercise, their body will fight to replenish the lost weight by slowing metabolism and encouraging eating through hunger signals. It is important to manage your weight before obesity becomes a barrier that can feel impossible to break.

Q. When is surgery a good option? Is it the easy way out?

A. Many people avoid weight-loss surgery, feeling it’s an easy way out. However, that belief couldn’t be further from the truth. First, to even be considered for the surgery, a patient must have tried to lose weight using non-surgical methods such as diet and exercise, or have tried and failed to lose weight with prescription weight-loss therapies. Then, there is a prehab aspect prior to surgery, which is extremely demanding. When someone is considering bariatric surgery, they’ll need to increase their physical activity so they’re at optimal health prior to the operation. When high levels of obesity have already been reached and barriers have become too difficult to manage, weight-loss surgery may be the best option. Bariatric surgery is the only reliable solution we have in getting obese patients to a place where they can begin to exercise again and manage a healthy weight. Aside from weight loss, bariatric patients can see dramatic improvements in their heart disease risk and blood sugar levels—many diabetics are able to decrease or stop taking medications altogether.

Q. How can I increase physical activity prior to surgery if I have painful joints due to excess weight?

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A. At Northern Westchester Hospital, an anti-gravity treadmill called the Alter G helps bariatric candidates get into optimal health prior to surgery. This breakthrough technology partially suspends the body as the patient walks or runs. Imagine being able to exercise as if you weighed 100 pounds less. A patient who has been sedentary can start to exercise without risking damage to their joints due to their weight. We had a patient that used the treadmill for six weeks prior surgery and managed to lose 22 pounds, which wouldn’t have been possible if she were supporting her entire weight.

Learn More about Dr. Roslin
Director, Bariatric Surgery
Northern Westchester Hospital

Read Past Topics from Dr. Roslin:
Benefits of Weight-Loss Surgery
Metabolic Syndrome

Northern Westchester Hospital is a proud member of Northwell Health (formerly North Shore-LIJ Health System).

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