Bariatrics is the branch of medicine that deals with the causes, prevention, and treatment of obesity. The term bariatrics was created around 1965, from the Greek root bar- ("weight," as in barometer), suffix -iatr ("treatment," as in pediatrics), and suffix -ic ("pertaining to"). The field encompasses dieting, exercise and behavioral therapy approaches to weight loss, as well as pharmacotherapy and surgery.
Overweight and obesity are rising medical problems of pandemic proportions. There are many detrimental health effects of obesity: Individuals with a BMI (Body Mass Index) exceeding a healthy range have a much greater risk of medical issues. These include heart disease, diabetes, many types of cancer, asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, and chronic musculoskeletal problems. There is also an effect of obesity on mortality.
People may find it difficult to lose weight on their own. It is common for dieters to have tried fad diets only to find that they gain weight, or return to their original weight, after ceasing the diet.
Although diet, exercise, behavior therapy and anti-obesity drugs are first-line treatment, medical therapy for severe obesity has limited short-term success and very poor long-term success. Weight loss surgery generally results in greater weight loss than conventional treatment, and leads to improvements in quality of life and obesity related diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. The combination of approaches used may be tailored to each patient.
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- VIDEO: How Bariatrics Has Changed Our Understanding of Type II Diabetes Dr. Daniel McKenna speaks at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, 2008.
- MedLinePlus Portal on Weight Loss Surgery