Every time I think of obesity surgery, I think of the risks - see this article about Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weiss, who almost died on the table...
I took in a session at the World Health Care Congress led by James Roosevelt, the CEO of the Tufts Health Plan. While the session focused on Tools for Consumer Engagement, Roosevelt focused on the Tufts strategy for Obesity/Bariatric Surgery.
Here's the definition of Obesity/Bariatric Surgery from Wikipedia:
"Although diet, exercise, behavior therapy and anti-obesity drugs are first-line treatment, these forms of medical therapy for severe obesity have limited short-term success and almost nonexistent long-term success. Therefore, obesity surgery (or bariatric surgery for the professors reading this) has been a popular treatment in the war against obesity. 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."
Several readers took exception to that definition, and I have to agree. To say diet and exercise have non-existent long term success is clueless to say and the piece sound like it was written by a lobbying firm.
Roosevelt's rundown of the Tufts approach to Bariatric surgery was interesting in several ways. First, Tufts gates access to the Bariatric program through BMI limits - including limits on the high side. Have a BMI that goes over the acceptable threshold, and you can't get in the program due to the relative health of your body. With the related stress that morbid obesity can cause, it's thought that those with super high BMI's were at the highest risk of not making it through the procedures.
Additionally, Tufts requires anyone entering the program to do a 6-month behavior modification program, where they get education and have to set and achieve two behavioral goals, such as to stop drinking soda. So much for the Wikipedia definition from the Bariatric lobby...
It's interesting stuff, as were the stats Roosevelt quoted regarding obesity surgery. 229 covered individuals have been accepted into the obesity surgery program, and at this point, 119 have graduated.
The education regarding alternatives to obesity surgery during the program must be working, as 17% of the graduates opt to forego or defer the obesity surgery they originally sought.
Estimated lifetime savings to the plan according to Roosevelt - 4 Million, or over 17K for each covered individual who's opted into the plan.