overweight man holding a dumbbell in each hand

The Most Effective Tools to Conquer Obesity

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40% of adults are battling obesity. Obesity is a poorly understood and complex disease that is the second-leading cause of preventable death in the United States (smoking is No. 1). Genetics, environment, lifestyle, ethnicity, gender, personal history, age and culture all play a role in its development over time.

Most people who have struggled with their weight for years have tried dieting and exercise without lasting success. Carrying this extra weight can have a profound impact on a person’s life. In addition to the social and emotional aspects—many patients speak to the stigma and shame associated with being overweight—physically, obesity affects nearly every major system and function in the body.

Weight loss, or bariatric, surgery is a safe and effective treatment that can have a long-lasting and meaningful impact on a person’s health. It improves health, mobility, self-confidence and body image, and can cure and prevent serious medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnea, to allow people to live longer, healthier lives. Other benefits that improve quality of life following weight loss include reducing or eliminating the need for medications, increased energy levels and being more physically active.

"Weight loss surgery is very mainstream and effective. Most every patient says it is the best thing they have ever done for themselves and wish they would have had surgery sooner,” says Thien Nguyen, MD, bariatric surgeon and medical director of the Overlake Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery program.

The Overlake bariatric program, a collaboration between Overlake Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente, is an accredited MBSAQIP* Comprehensive Center for Bariatric Surgery. It has also been the recipient of the Healthgrades® Bariatric Surgery Excellence Award for three consecutive years (2017-2019). This award recognizes the program as among the top 5% of hospitals evaluated in the nation. Overlake is the only hospital in Washington state to achieve a five-star rating for five consecutive years (2015-2019). These awards and designations recognize the program as providing safe, high-quality care and all the necessary resources to support patients’ needs.

As the most comprehensive surgical and medically monitored weight loss program in Puget Sound, Overlake combines nutritional and behavioral consultations, as well as a twice-a-month drop-in support group facilitated by the program dietitian, behavioral therapist and nurse manager, to ensure patients incorporate the healthy lifestyle changes that are critical to their success.

“Surgery sounds radical, but it’s not. It is proven to be exceptionally safe and the most effective tool to conquer obesity,” says Kim van Groos, ARNP with Overlake’s weight management team.

The good news is weight loss surgery effectively improves or altogether eliminates obesity-related conditions (see list below). It is also linked to living a longer life. In a study comparing people who had surgery to those who did not, researchers found, over the span of five years, those who had surgery reduced their risk of premature death by a staggering 89%.

The two minimally invasive surgical options offered at Overlake are the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and the sleeve gastrectomy. Both surgical options reduce the amount of food the stomach can hold, decrease hunger and improve feelings of fullness. The type of surgery performed is determined on what will ensure the best outcome for the patient based on their goals and motivations.

"Each patient receives a personalized plan to help them lose weight and keep it off,” explains Patricia Mathis, ARNP, also with the bariatric team. “We encourage individuals contemplating surgery to consider attending at least one support group prior to surgery to meet people with similar wellness goals. It can be very motivating for our patients.”

Surgery will result in losing the majority of the extra weight and is the first step to better health. Commitment to good eating habits, an exercise plan, support group meetings and regular checkups with our clinic providers are necessary to achieve maximum weight loss after surgery.

For those who don’t qualify for surgery (see "Do I Qualify" below) or do not wish to undergo surgery, medical weight management is an effective option. Medical weight loss is about creating a sustainable, individualized and scientifically-based plan that incorporates coaching, supervised diet recommendations, exercise and medication as needed.

Whether it’s through surgery or medical weight management, our team—the most experienced in the region—is dedicated to improving every patient’s health through weight loss and is committed to your long-term success.

“Each person comes in with a different vision of what their life looks like after weight loss. Our job is to help them achieve that vision,” adds Mathis.

Read weight loss surgery success stories by Overlake patients Nancy Ford, Crystal Lowy and Chris Zito.

    Do I Qualify?

    Individuals are considered candidates for surgery if they meet the following criteria:

    • Over 18 years of age.
    • BMI is equal to or greater than 40; or, if BMI is greater than 35 with an obesity-related health problem such as diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, high cholesterol.
    • Have attempted and failed non-surgical weight-loss.
    • Are well informed and motivated.
    • Understand risks, benefits and long-term consequences of surgery.
    • Are psychologically stable.

    Please check with your health insurance for details on coverage.

    Connect with us to learn more about which weight loss option is best for you, or call 425.467.3957.