HEALTH WATCH: The Costs of Obesity

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 01:54 PM CDT
HEALTH WATCH:  The Costs of Obesity story image
ESCAMBIA COUNTY     --  Obesity related medical costs are estimated to cost Americans billions of dollars each year.
That's money spent on medicine, diet programs and gym memberships by people who are dangerously *overweight.

Both Baptist and Sacred Heart Hospitals have Weight Loss Surgery Centers.
This is a picture of Jennifer Wright back in 2008 before she got bariatric surgery...
This is a picture of her now 70 pound lighter and much healthier.

Jennifer is now on her fourth year of keeping the weight off.
Lunch time is no longer as scary or unhealthy.

Jennifer Wright, Former Weight Loss Patient
I usually eat a salad .I do the chili for a change up.

It's hard to believe she was ever 220 pounds.
What you can't tell from this picture though is she has diabetes, gurd, high blood pressure, and taking medicine for all of them.

It's what pushed her to get gastric bypass.
Dr. Jeff Friedman performed the surgery at Baptist.
Eff Friedman, Weight Loss Surgeon. Baptist Hospital
We've gotten a lot busy in the past couple of years.

Obesity is really the number one health issue in our country, its costing our country 150 billion dollars each year in health care expenses, obesity rates are going up

Doctors say gastric bypass is a last resort for patients who've tried and tried to lose weight unsuccessfully.
Sacred Heart Hospital took us inside a laproscopic surgery.

It's a non-evasive procedure.
You can see the patient's stomach surrounded by layers of fat...
Doctor Jeffrey Lord explains what's happening.

Jeffrey Lord, Weight Loss Surgeon, Sacred Heart
"It's actually stapled and divided. and a smaller portion remains and that's hooked up to the intestine and thereby it restricts the amount that they take in and it prevents them from absorbing about 45 percent of what they take in."

Patients see results immediately.  20 to 30 pounds within a month.
On average, they lose a hundred pounds overall.

Jennifer Wright, Former Weight Loss Patient
"My first appointment, I lost 15 percent of my body weight I could see it in the mirror."

Some insurance plans will pay for this surgery -
Usually if a patient's body mass index is above forty percent...
Or* if their BMI is at 35 percent and they have an obesity related disease.
...as was the case with Jennifer.

Her life is much healthier  now.
Her diabetes, gurd and high blood pressure all gone.
So are the medical expenses associated with them.
She works at the Baptist Bariatric Center assisting future patients, and telling them her success story.

Jennifer Wright, Former Weight Loss Patient
"Just like I tell the patients, I've been given the gift of normal."

Both hospitals spent millions of dollars on their bariatrics center, but both say the benefits to their patients far outweigh the costs. HEALTH WATCH: The Costs of Obesity
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