Obesity is growing at alarming rates and has recently been cited as one reason that the current generation will be the first to not enjoy a longer life span than previous generations. Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or greater, while a person with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 kg/m2 is termed overweight. Morbid obesity, or clinically severe obesity, is defined as having a BMI greater than 40 kg/m2.
In 1991, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) consensus panel concluded that weight loss surgery is the only effective treatment for long term weight loss in severely obese patients - those with a BMI greater than 40 kg/m2 or patients with a BMI greater than 35 kg/m2 with associated comorbidities. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has agreed with the NIH and will provide coverage for beneficiaries undergoing bariatric surgery.
Healthcare providers play an integral role in treating obesity, both prior to and after weight loss surgery, and in careful patient selection, pre-operative evaluation and consistent follow-up, and in providing necessary therapy for patients in cases where insurance carriers require medically supervised weight loss therapy prior to authorizing surgery.
Informative Resources for Referring Physicians
Managing the Obese Patient Before and After Weight Loss Surgery
Treatment of Adult Obesity with Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric Surgery: A Primer
Bariatric Surgery and Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes in Swedish Obese Subjects