Walk from Obesity – Raising Awareness

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 26, 2016

This year's Boston Walk from Obesity winds through the Arnold Arboretum.

This year’s Boston Walk from Obesity winds through the Arnold Arboretum.

For years, Sheila Fitzgerald of Dedham, MA, has participated in the Walk from Obesity. Two years ago, she was among the top fundraisers in the country. Her focus last year, however, was more on raising awareness than raising money.

“I think it’s important to talk about obesity and educate people,” says Sheila.

She wants others to be more informed than she was. A lack of understanding is why it took her so long to consider weight loss surgery, she explains. The need for a knee replacement, however, pushed her to learn more about surgical options for weight loss.

Staying Active

Sheila has always been active, even when she was overweight. However, severe pain in her left knee caused her to cut back on her exercise. She sought counsel from Dr. Anthony Webber, an orthopedic surgeon at BWFH, who advised her that she should get a knee replacement. Otherwise, she would become sedentary – a prospect that she feared.

“That freaked me out,” says Sheila. “I was active, and I wanted to stay active.”

Despite being apprehensive about undergoing weight loss surgery, she signed up for an information session. She asked a lot of questions at the session and soon learned that weight loss surgery would be a sensible treatment for her obesity.

After being evaluated by Dr. Scott Shikora, Director of the CMBS, and other BWH specialists, it was determined that she would be a suitable candidate for a sleeve gastrectomy. This procedure involves removing the outer crescent of the stomach, an area where a major hormone that regulates appetite is produced. The procedure also reduces the capacity of the stomach to hold food by about 75 percent. Along with promoting weight loss, the sleeve gastrectomy is believed to be particularly effective at treating certain metabolic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, and obstructive sleep apnea.

Dr. Shikora performed Sheila’s weight loss surgery in January 2014. Since that time, she has lost 80 pounds and no longer has sleep apnea. Those benefits also have come with no complications.

In November 2014, Dr. Webber performed Sheila’s knee replacement. Her knee feels great today, and she is back to being her active self.

Sheila also is now an informed advocate of weight loss surgery.

“It has changed my life,” says Sheila. “I would recommend it. I have recommended it.”

– Chris P.

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Walking Away from Obesity

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital May 29, 2015

Tim Dineen, before gastric bypass surgery

Everyone is invited to participate in this year’s Walk from Obesity, which starts and finishes at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital on June 13, 2015. Join patients, medical staff, and others in helping to make a difference in the lives of those touched by obesity by either walking or cheering on the walkers. Funds raised through the event will be used to support obesity-related research, education, and awareness programs promoted by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Foundation.

One patient who plans to be there is Tim Dineen, 59, of Somerville, MA, who exemplifies what a committed patient can do once they find the right help.

Like many, his weight struggles began when he was young and continued into adulthood. Despite being active, he continued to be overweight because of excessive eating. He tried a variety of strategies to lose weight, but none led to long-term success.

Tim thought about weight loss surgery, but initially didn’t pursue that option because of his concern about the risks of open surgery. However, when he learned that gastric bypass surgery had become a less-invasive procedure, he came to Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) to see whether he would be an appropriate candidate for this new approach.

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Understanding Bariatric Surgery Treatment Options

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital July 9, 2014

After having a sleeve gastrectomy, Chuck achieved optimal cholesterol and blood pressure levels, his sleep apnea was cured, his diabetes went into remission, and he welcomed his first child.

Obesity is a major public health problem in the United States and throughout the world. In the U.S., it is estimated there are up to 20 million morbidly obese people (body mass index (BMI) greater than 40). Morbid obesity can lead to many other health issues, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. These patients also may be at increased risk for certain types of cancer, endocrine problems, skin problems, and joint and bone pain.

Bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery) can help patients with a BMI greater than 40, or a BMI greater than 35 with co-existing health conditions, lose weight  and improve their overall health, including remission of type 2 diabetes, reductions in high blood pressure, and improvement in female fertility.

Dr. Scott Shikora, Director of the Center for Metabolic Health and Bariatric Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital discusses bariatric surgery options for weight loss and metabolic treatment in obese patients.

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10 Essential Health Screenings for Men

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital June 3, 2014

Every man should have their blood pressure checked regularly. This can be done at the doctor’s office or at home.

Detecting symptoms of certain health conditions early, when they are more easily treatable, is a critical factor in helping men stay healthy. That’s why getting all your doctor-recommended health care screenings in a timely fashion is the kind of to-do list that no man should ignore.

Below is information about ten important health screenings for men, including the appropriate timing for each

1. Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

Men between the ages of 65 and 75 who have ever smoked tobacco should get screened for an abdominal aortic aneurysm. An imaging test, such as a computed tomography (CT) scan, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study, can help determine the presence, size, and extent of an aortic aneurysm. The major risk of this aortic bulging is a rupture resulting in severe or fatal internal bleeding.

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Obesity Treatment – Evaluating Your Options

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital January 7, 2014

There are a wide range of weight loss approaches, including lifestyle changes, medical therapies, and surgical treatments.

When it comes to treating obesity, there are many options. And, what may be ideal for one person may not be right for another.

“Many people with obesity are unsure which direction to take when it comes to losing weight,” explains Dr. Florencia Halperin, an endocrinologist and Co-Director of the Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery. “We believe that it is important for patients to understand all of the available treatment choices, including the benefits and drawbacks of each approach, so that they can make informed decisions.”

Dr. Halperin and bariatric surgeon Ali Tavakkoli, MD, Center Co-Director, provide consultation for patients regarding a wide range of approaches, including lifestyle changes, medical therapies, and surgical treatments, and work with them to develop an individualized plan based on needs and preferences.

“Often, we incorporate multiple strategies in the overall plan,” says Dr. Tavakkoli. “For example, some patients may desire to start with lifestyle modifications and medications. For patients with type 2 diabetes and certain lipid disorders, weight loss surgery has been shown to be a benefit and may be considered earlier, with continued treatment with lifestyle changes to ensure ongoing success.”

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Obesity Is Now a Disease

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital November 13, 2013

Comparing your waist circumference to your height is one method for assessing obesity.

Obesity is now a disease. That is the much publicized conclusion reached by the American Medical Association during its June 2013 annual meeting. While this doesn’t change how registered dietitians manage their clients seeking or needing weight loss, it may allow more physicians to refer their patients for nutritional counseling sooner and perhaps encourage more health insurers to cover nutritional consultations.

Some critics argue that labeling obesity as a disease may take the onus off individuals to alter lifestyle habits, such as improving eating choices and increasing physical activity level. Proponents of the obesity designation counter with the fact that other conditions like diabetes and heart disease are indeed diseases, despite them being better managed with lifestyle changes.

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I Can’t Lose Weight – My Knee Hurts!

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 23, 2013

An orthopedic specialist can help you identify the cause of your knee pain and work with you to develop a treatment plan that will keep you moving.

Today’s post, written by Dr. Elizabeth Matzkin, Surgical Director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, was adapted from an article that originally appeared on  A Nation in Motion, sponsored by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

I hear this all the time – “I’m trying to lose weight – but I can’t exercise because my knee hurts.”  It’s a never-ending cycle that needs to be broken!

More than 36 percent of adults and 17 percent of children in the US are obese, which is a far too common problem. Obesity causes an increased load on your muscles and joints. The knee joint feels five times your body weight with each step you take – so a weight loss of even five pounds can feel like a 25-pound weight loss to your knee, helping to reduce your knee pain.

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The Sour Side of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital September 12, 2013

Sugar-sweetened beverages can have a sour impact on your health.

Today’s post is written by Kathy McManus, MS, RD, LDN, Director of Nutrition. The post originally appeared in the newsletter, published by the Osher Clinical Center for Integrative Medicine.

The next time you reach for a nice cold soda or juice, consider this – each 12 ounce can of a sugar-sweetened drink or juice contains 10 to 12 teaspoons of sugar, amounting to 150 to 175 calories. Though it doesn’t sound like much, it will take about 20 minutes of casual biking, walking, or yoga just to burn these extra calories!

Obesity is a growing problem in the US (no pun intended), and there are many contributors to the crisis. One is the increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), as well as the increase in beverage portion sizes. These two factors have led to a greater percentage of calories consumed each day via beverages.

Sugar-sweetened beverages currently account for about 10 percent of total calories consumed in the US diet. Today, 63 percent of adults and 80 percent of youth consume at least one sugar-sweetened beverage a day. Americans consume about 250 to 300 more daily calories today compared to the seventies, and about half of this increase is due to the greater consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

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Hormones and Hunger – How Do They Relate?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital April 17, 2013

Psychologist Laura Holsen, PhD, explains how hormones can affect your appetite.

Can hormones play a part in what motivates us to eat? And, if so, how can studying hormones help address health issues such as anorexia or obesity?

These, and other questions, are at the heart of research being done by Brigham and Women’s Hospital psychologist Laura Holsen, PhD, Division of Women’s Health, Department of Medicine, who recently took some time to answer a few questions about how hormones may affect people at both ends of the weight spectrum.

  • How can studying hormones help us better understand eating disorders?

We know that there is an overlap between eating disorders and mood disturbances such as depression. This may be due to disruption within the brain regions that process reward.

It turns out that there are several hormones involved in appetite and mood that act on these regions of the brain involved in reward and making decisions about food intake. So by studying hormone levels while collecting brain activity data, we will get a deeper understanding of the relationship between hormone levels and brain activity in regions involved with appetite, food intake, and mood.

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Watching the Clock: An Effective Dieting Tool?

Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital February 19, 2013

Should you be concerned about when you eat?

A well-known saying suggests that timing is everything when it comes to success in life’s pursuits.  The results of a study by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), in collaboration with the University of Murcia (Spain) and Tufts University, suggests that’s also the case when it comes to losing weight. They found that it’s not simply what you eat, but also when you eat, that may help you successfully lose or manage your weight.

To study the role of food timing on weight loss, the researchers studied 420 overweight subjects in Spain during a 20-week weight-loss treatment program. The study subjects were divided into two groups: early eaters and late eaters, according to the timing of their main meal. (In Spain, the main meal is usually lunch, when people may consume as much as 40 percent of total daily calories.) Early eaters ate lunch anytime before 3 p.m. and late eaters, after 3 p.m. The researchers found that late eaters lost significantly less weight than early eaters and experienced a much slower rate of weight loss.

“This is the first large-scale prospective study to demonstrate that the timing of meals predicts weight-loss effectiveness,” said Dr. Frank Scheer, director of the Medical Chronobiology Program and associate neuroscientist at BWH and senior author of this study. “Our results indicate that late eaters displayed a slower weight-loss rate and lost significantly less weight than early eaters, suggesting that the timing of large meals could be an important factor in a weight loss program.”

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