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Geisinger becomes the first member of Risant Health

It’s not perfect, but your BMI is telling

If you feel like you’ve tried every type of diet and exercise plan to control your weight without success, you’re not alone. For many people managing obesity, lifestyle changes aren’t enough to get back to a healthy weight. 

Research shows that our body’s metabolic system is altered by extra weight, making it harder to lose weight by eating less and moving more. In fact, you may find yourself dealing with stronger-than-normal cravings when you begin a new diet - and it’s not just in your head. 

“Even the most effective diets can send your body into starvation mode which can lead to food cravings to correct the perceived problem,” said Dr. Chris Still, medical director for Geisinger’s Center for Nutrition and Weight Management. “The threshold for that ‘starvation mode’ is often lower for patients with obesity, which is no fault of their own.”

For many patients, bariatric surgery is the best option to maintain weight loss and more importantly to treat and often eliminate medical problems such as diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels. But bariatric surgery is not a “quick fix.” It requires considerable patient preparation and lifelong commitment to be most successful.

What is your BMI?

One of the important factors to consider is your body mass index or BMI. BMI is a screening tool for deciding whether a person is a candidate for bariatric surgery. BMI measures the ratio of a person’s body weight and height to gauge body fat. In other words, the higher the BMI, the higher the risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and breathing problems.

“A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9,” explained Dr. Anthony Petrick, Geisinger’s director of bariatric surgery. “From 25.0 to 29.9 is considered overweight, 30.0-34.9 is termed obese and greater than 35 is considered severe obesity.”

However, BMI isn’t the only measure of a candidate. Dr. Petrick says that, “while BMI is representative of the risk of obesity-related diseases, it’s an imperfect scale that does not account for muscle mass. “

BMI and bariatric surgery
When considering weight loss surgery, your doctor will conduct a thorough family and personal health history including your BMI, past attempts at weight loss and current health conditions. 

To qualify for bariatric surgery, most candidates must have a BMI over 40.0 or a BMI over 35.0 plus a related health issue, such as diabetes or sleep apnea.

If you’re considering weight loss surgery at Geisinger, you’ll meet with a team of specialists to discuss how to improve medical conditions, as well as diet and lifestyle changes that establish your ability to adopt new, healthier habits. This is important component to increase your chances for achieving long-term success.

Geisinger’s bariatric program offers several types of weight loss surgeries, all done through minimally invasive approaches. Patients meet with our bariatric specialist and, together, decide which procedure is best for them. 

Bariatric surgery can be an extremely effective treatment for obesity and for controlling the associated diseases that impair patients’ lives. At Geisinger, we provide a dedicated team before and after surgery to give patients all the tools necessary to make these changes last a lifetime. 

Wondering if you might be a good candidate for bariatric surgery? Learn your BMI with our BMI calculator here.

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