Weight loss surgery has become an option for the morbidly obese to lose weight for a healthy lifestyle. However, some people who are less than obese are actually attempting to gain enough weight to qualify for the surgery, as described in a recent article on MSNBC.com by JoNel Aleccia.
The article describes a woman, who at 202 pounds, did not qualify for traditional weight loss surgery. Ironically, she wasn’t fat enough to lose weight through surgery. Rather than trying to lose the weight by natural means, she actually gorged herself on junk food to gain at least eight pounds, which would qualify her for surgery through her insurance company.
As a result, she did qualify to participate in a clinical trial that led the federal Food and Drug Administration to lower the bar for obesity in people eligible for one form of weight loss surgery, Allergan’s Lap-Band stomach-shrinking devise. Since the woman’s BMI was between 30 and 35, she got the treatment for free. Today she weighs 143 pounds at 5-foot-6.
This situation is not that rare, but is a growing dilemma according to dieters and doctors alike. Since many strict insurance policies limit surgery to high BMIs of 35 or 40, some obese people are actually aiming to put on weight so they can lose it by surgical means. People go as far as to eat extreme amounts of junk food, drink gallons of water, or even wear ankle weights during their consultation.
Elizabeth Marks, 32, of San Diego, California, was turned down for surgery once by her insurance company for being less than 100 pounds overweight, but was accepted after she gained more weight. She spent two weeks eating all the junk food she could to qualify.
In general, a person who is 5-fot-6 and weighs 220 pounds has a BMI of 35. At 250, the BMI climbs to 40. Weight loss doctors discourage unhealthy practices to qualify for weight loss and urge patients to pursue non-surgical options or find other ways to pay for the surgery. Some insurers actually consider it fraud to put on weight to qualify for the surgery.
“I tell them to go home. You don’t qualify,” said Dr. Namir Katkhouda, a bariatric surgeon at the University of Southern California who has performed 2,000 procedures. “They come back six months later and their problems are much worse.”
The FDA recently decided to approve the use of Lap-Band in patients with BMIs as low as 30 with at least one weight-related disease, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Otherwise to qualify, patients must have a BMI level of 40 if they are otherwise healthy. This move allowed an additional 27 million people to become eligible to the surgery.
Ultimately, insurers prefer that people try other less-drastic weight loss options, including medically supervised programs, said Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans.
What are your thoughts on people taking drastic measures to qualify for weight loss surgery? Do you believe that it is better to pursue non-surgical measures to lose weight? Would you ever consider gaining weight to be able to lose it? We would love to hear what you think about this controversial topic.
Source: MSNBC.com Desperate to qualify for weight loss surgery, some pile on the pounds
Tags: lose weight