Earlier this year, the American Medical Association voted to recognize obesity as a clinical disease. An epidemic affecting people of all ages, obesity occurs when a human’s body mass index (BMI), a calculation of height vs. weight, reaches more than 30. While ‘normal’ body weight ranges from 18.5 to 24.9 BMI, and 25 to 29.9 are classified as ‘overweight’, statistics show that more than one-quarter of North Americans are overweight and nearly a third of the population are categorically obese.
In response to this, and in an effort to provide relief to many suffering from long-term obesity, SmartShape Weight Loss Centre (SWLC) was established in 2004 to specialize in bariatric procedures, offering Lap-Band and Gastric Balloon weight loss programs to patients across Canada. To date, SmartShape has performed more than 4,000 surgeries and, more importantly, it has also developed a comprehensive follow up program that keeps patients focused on positive healthy living following their procedure. SmartShape offers long-term weight loss solutions for those interested in sustained weight loss to improve their health or for those living with diabetes, hypertension, or any health issues related to being overweight. Typically, weight loss surgery is performed on obese patients who have not been successful with traditional dieting methods.
“If you look at the history of dieting, more than 95 per cent of people who start a diet will eventually put the weight back on and less than two per cent are able to keep off 20 pounds for two years,” Dr. Chris Cobourn, Medical Director with SmartShape, told The Canadian Business Journal. “People may be able to lose weight, but the overwhelming majority eventually put it back on and usually a little bit more, so people go through this ‘yo-yo’ diet cycle over and over again, and then just get fed up.”
Instead of the traditional diets, SmartShape offers a permanent and sustainable weight loss solution. However, Lap-Band surgery is only the first step of the way, and SmartShape recognizes that its follow up program is also a key component in maintaining health and ensuring long-term weight loss success. Patients must be willing to learn new habits and be motivated. While not your typical diet of restricting particular foods, rather, the post-Lap-Band lifestyle focuses on changing not what people eat, but how they eat. In other words, patients learn to adjust their eating habits to a more paced and mindful approach, and as a result, the more effective the approach, the greater the weight loss.
“It’s not magic, the weight loss doesn’t occur simply by putting in the Lap-Band. However, the band is designed to be a permanent implant so it is difficult for people to put on the weight again,” Dr. Cobourn described. “With the gastric bypass procedure, the biggest difference from the Lap-Band is that the bypass involves actually cutting, dividing, and rejoining the bowels. In contrast, implanting the Lap-Band is a minimally invasive procedure with a relatively quick recovery. There used to be fear of surgery, but whether the patient chooses a bypass or a band, they are both safe procedures, and people recognize that the risk of maintaining excess weight is much greater than the any surgical risks.”
While many doctors will simply tell their patients to diet and exercise, Dr. Cobourn acknowledged the inherent flaws with this age-old philosophy. Exercise is more geared toward cardiovascular fitness and not a primary form of weight loss unless combined with a restrictive intake diet.
“You can get on your treadmill and run your heart out for half-hour and you will burn 300 calories,” Dr. Cobourn explained, “but then you get off the treadmill and you feel good and proud, and have a cookie and a glass of milk, and there is your 300 calories back right there. In fact, many studies have shown overcompensation in caloric intake for exercise, meaning they actually consume more calories than what they burned. The health benefits that are associated with exercise are different from the weight loss benefits that are associated with caloric restriction.”
SmartShape continues to provide satisfying results and lifelong relief for patients suffering from obesity. Developments like the Lap-Band have reversed the cycle where patients can once again control over their hunger. As an organization, SmartShape has grown to the point where it has become a national network of bariatric providers.
“The overwhelming sentiment that we get from our patients is that they wished they had done this 10 years earlier, or it was the best decision they have ever made. We hear phrases like that all the time because these individuals are finally able to actually keep off the weight,” Dr. Cobourn concluded. “The key message about the ap-Band is that it’s safe, it’s effective, and what we offer is a program. It’s not just an operation. The patients have to be able, willing, and committed to take part and, if they do, 95 per cent are very happy with their results.”