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Obesity a Common Denominator for Medical Problems, Loyola Doctor Says

The American Medical Association Declares Obesity a Disease

MELROSE PARK, Ill. - One-third of all U.S. adults (78 million) and 12 million children suffer from obesity, which the American Medical Association has now officially declared a disease.

“We now know that excess adipose (fat) tissue is active rather than inert. It alters hormones, releases cytokines and inflammatory factors, all of which cause metabolic derangements,” said Jessica Bartfield, MD, bariatrician at the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care. “For the obese patient, even if the excess weight is not causing any current medical problems, that patient faces a higher risk of several other diseases."

Obesity is diagnosed when the body mass index exceeds 30. “The obesity designation will hopefully prompt more physicians to properly screen for and treat obesity and it will support improved insurance coverage for obesity treatment,” Bartfield said. “Both will improve patients’ access to effective obesity treatment."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, treatment of obesity-related diseases  adds more than $150 billion to the nation’s medical bill each year.
“Although lifestyle and behaviors highly influence a person’s weight, research continues to find multiple other factors including genetics, environment, hormonal balances and sleep patterns ,which underscore the complexity of this disease,” said Bartfield, who is part of Loyola’s multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, nutritionists, exercise physiologists  and surgeons. “Obesity often acts as the common denominator for all other medical conditions a patient may suffer, including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, osteoarthritis or sleep apnea."

Medicare currently funds medical care for an estimated 13 million obese Americans who are disabled or over 65, but many other insurance providers are not as generous.

In addition to a nonsurgical medical weight loss program, Loyola offers surgical procedures including laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.  Loyola takes an integrated team approach, and education and support groups play an important role in all aspects of care.  To learn more about medical and surgical weight loss at Loyola, or to sign up for a free information session, please call (800) 504-1397 or visit loyolamedicine.com/bariatrics.

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

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