Background on Obesity

A growing obesity epidemic is threatening the health of millions of Americans and posing a major public health challenge and a considerable financial burden. Over 97 million adults are overweight, 39 million are obese and 11 million are severely obese. Between 300,000 and 587,000 obesity-related deaths occur per year, making obesity the second-leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Obesity substantially increases the risk of hypertension, type II diabetes, coronary artery disease, stroke, gall bladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, dyslipidemia, and cancer. U.S. health care costs for treating obese adults have reached $238 billion according to a 1999 study by the Lewin Group presented at the American Obesity Association meeting

Low calorie diets, commercial weight loss programs, and weight loss drugs have not been effective for severe obesity, as weight lost is almost always regained. Obesity surgery, however, has been proven to result in both significant and sustained weight loss. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Society for Bariatric Surgery (ASBS) and the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) consider surgery appropriate for people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 or more (severely obese) and with at least two significant health problems associated with obesity, or for people with a BMI of 40 or more (morbidly obese, this is roughly equivalent to 100 pounds overweight).

The LAP BANDAdjustable Gastric Banding System is a less invasive approach to obesity surgery, filling the gap between non-surgical treatments (such as dieting, exercise and drugs) and the more invasive surgical procedures (such as stomach stapling or gastric bypass). It includes an adjustable silicone band that is placed by laparoscopic “keyhole” surgery around the upper part of the stomach to create a small gastric pouch. This limits food consumption and creates an earlier feeling of fullness. The band is inflatable and connected to an access port placed close to the skin that allows surgeons to adjust the system to meet individual patient needs. The procedure is reversible and does not require cutting or stapling of the stomach, or gastrointestinal re-routing to bypass normal digestion. Patient benefits include reduced surgical trauma, complications, pain, and scarring, and shorter hospitalization and recovery time compared to more invasive obesity surgeries.