Following years of argument we are finally coming around to the unavoidable conclusion that surgery is the only really successful and lasting solution to the problem of severe obesity. And not before time!
Right now obesity is arguably the leading health problem in the industrialized world and in the US alone about 60 percent of people are overweight, with almost 24 percent being obese and 3 percent severely obese. Now 3 percent may not appear to be big figure but when you consider that it is more than 9 million morbidly obese individuals this is a fairly big problem.
In spite of the fact that attention is increasingly being focused on the problem of obesity and its cure, it is surprising how much remains to be learnt about the condition, including the affects of alcohol on individuals who have undergone weight loss surgery.
For some time now there has been some anecdotal evidence to suggest that individuals who have undergone obesity surgery are affected more by alcohol than others but it was not until late in 2006 that any attempt was made to assess the extent of the problem.
In a fairly small-scale study the affects of alcohol on 19 individuals who had obesity surgery was compared to the affects on 17 control subjects. The individuals taking part in the study each drank a small 5 ounce glass of red wine and their breath alcohol level was then analyzed until it fell back to zero.
The study found that alcohol levels reached a higher level in the obesity patients and also that they took far longer to fall back to zero. But, most interestingly, the study also showed that just }a single|one} small glass of wine was sufficient to push the breath alcohol level in some obesity surgery patients above the legal limit for driving in several states.
The reason for the added affects of alcohol on obesity surgery patients is quite simple to understand as surgery both reduces the volume of the stomach and bypasses part of the intestine, both areas of the body which play a key role in breaking down alcohol before it gets into the bloodstream.
So just what does this mean for obesity surgery patients?
Well, aside from the obvious need to exercise caution and certainly to avoid driving after drinking even small amounts of alcohol, the implications for obesity surgery patients do in fact go a bit deeper.
A major problem is that alcohol is a relaxant and this can produce difficulties with post-operative weight loss and to maintaining weight loss. Because alcohol relaxes the stomach, which includes the lower esophageal sphincter, and the intestine, patients who enjoy a drink can eat more and alcohol in effect counteracts the affects of surgery. As if this were not bad enough a significant number of individuals become more socially active after surgery and this frequently means an increasing intake of alcohol.
There will still need to be considerably more research carried out of course but, in the end, the fact is that individuals who have weight loss surgery need to be aware of the risks of alcohol and adjust their lifestyle accordingly.