Obesity and Type 2 diabetes are on the rise, but you can lose weight with a few diet and lifestyle changes and improve your health. In extreme cases — when a person needs to lose 100 pounds or more to regain a healthy weight — weight-loss surgery can be a life-changing option.
Obesity is a serious health threat, putting people at risk for high blood pressure, stroke, coronary artery disease, certain types of cancer and even premature death. Type 2 diabetes, one of the most common side effects of excess weight, is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 may be reversible with changes in lifestyle, diet and weight management.
Tips to Prevent Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes
Have you wondered whether you are a candidate for weight-loss surgery?
Mills-Peninsula bariatric surgeon Pamela Foster, M.D., discusses the two most common types of weight-loss surgery and the serious weight-related health problems surgery can help resolve.
When her sister died from obesity-related causes, Sandi Castro decided it was time to save her own life.
“I was truly miserable.”
This is how Sandi Castro describes her life 20 years ago when she weighed more than 300 pounds.
Constant pain in her joints made it hard to move around, so she never exercised. She overate, and didn’t feel well — in her body or mind.
In 1991, Castro’s 400-pound sister died at only 45 years old from an obesity-related heart problem. Two weeks later, Castro decided to have weight loss surgery.
“At the time I was pre-diabetic, had high blood pressure and high cholesterol,” she says. “I was headed down the same road so I figured I had nothing to lose.”
Castro underwent gastric bypass stomach stapling surgery at Mills-Peninsula. The late Basil Meyerowitz, M.D., a pioneer in bariatric surgery, performed her procedure.
In the early 1990s, minimally invasive surgical techniques had not yet been developed.
“It was a big surgery in those days,” she says. “I stayed in the hospital three to four weeks, and when I left I was still filled with tubes.”
The recovery was also a challenge. Back then, there was no structured support program offered as part of Mills-Peninsula’s bariatric surgery program today. Without the help of a program director, a nutritionist, a counselor or a support group, Castro had to find her way through trial and error.
“You had to figure out your own limits, in terms of what you could and couldn’t eat,” she says.
Despite the struggle, Castro says she would do it all over again.
“My surgery changed my life, but I would really say it saved my life,” she says. “I’m still here.”
Improving with age
Just last year, Castro shed an additional 50 pounds.
To lose the remaining weight, she worked with Donna deKay, R.D., a Mills-Peninsula outpatient nutritionist and certified diabetes educator.
Castro learned to eat better by adding more vegetables and cutting out empty calories, such as sodas and sugary coffee drinks.
With better food choices, “the pounds slowly came off,” Castro says. “It was hard work.”
Castro also puts in at least one day per week at the local YMCA, swimming and using weight machines to tone her arms and legs.
“Now, at age 60, I’m a size six and weigh 145 pounds – the weight I was as a freshman in high school,” she says. “I am enjoying life so much now!”
She’s also a proud grandmother of five. And she’s grateful to still be here to see her grandchildren grow.
Medical experts today understand that the underlying cause of many health problems is excess weight. According to Mills-Peninsula surgeon Pamela Foster, M.D., weight loss surgery is one tool that can be used to treat these sometimes serious conditions, which include type 2 diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea. It’s also an area of medicine which is making progress due to advances in surgical procedures, she says.
Richard and Kathy Gingras collectively lost 200 pounds after having weight loss surgery at Mills-Peninsula. Kathy calls the surgery the best choice she ever made — she feels invigorated and can keep up with her new grandchild. Richard’s doctors told him he would not have survived cardiac arrest two years ago if he hadn’t lost the weight.
“I looked at my children and my wife, and I knew they were more important…than a slice of pizza or that extra scoop of ice cream. I was willing to make the changes because I want to live,” he says in this video segment from Healthpoint TV.
“We look at the type of food people eat, how often they eat and the amount of food they consume to create an individualized program,” he says in this video segment from Healthpoint TV.
For some people, weight loss surgery – or bariatric surgery – can be an effective tool to reduce the amount of food people eat by reshaping the stomach. Today’s minimally invasive surgical techniques can shorten recovery time and get people back to normal activities quicker. In this video, Dr. Wetter describes two types of weight loss surgery – Lap-Band and Roux-en-Y.