(WSYR-TV) -- More than 40 percent of Americans will be considered overweight in the next 20 years. That’s the latest prediction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Three studies released this month show cases of obesity are rising rapidly and driving up healthcare costs.
Doctors at Crouse Hospital say they’re seeing more overweight patients than ever before in the operating room.
Crouse formally launched its Bariatric Surgery Unit in September. Already, doctors say they’ll have to devote more time to gastric bypass, lap band or lap sleeve operations to keep up with demand in the future.
Toni Hayden told NewsChannel 9 she’s lost 120 pounds since having surgery.
Hayden had gastric bypass surgery two years ago, after struggling with diets. She weighed 246 pounds.
"High blood pressure, high cholesterol…I was on asthma medication. I just couldn't take it anymore,” she said. “I figured that by doing the surgery, I would lose the weight quicker."
Hayden joins a growing number of Central New Yorkers turning to surgery for weight loss. Upstate University Hospital reported 481 cases last year. That’s up from 372 just five years ago and Fingerlakes Bariatrics more than doubled surgeries in that time.
The demand prompted Crouse Hospital to begin offering services in September. They perform roughly 15 surgeries a month now and hope to double that number if they can find space.
“There is such a demand for bariatric surgery that I have to increase the number of operating room slots that I have for that ...to be able to accommodate the patients who are knocking at our door,” said Crouse Bariatric Surgeon, Doctor Jeff DeSimone.
Dr. DeSimone says two key factors fueled the demand: Public acceptance improved as celebrities had the surgery and lap band or lap sleeve procedures became easier to pay for.
"Those types of surgeries weren't initially embraced by the insurance companies and they are now,” Dr. DeSimone said.
Toni Hayden has heard the debate surrounding surgical treatment of obesity versus natural weight loss. She's heard criticism that gastric bypass is simply an easy way out of dieting. She agrees that the country is overeating high calorie and high carbohydrate foods. She also admits to relying on fast food and sugary drinks for a quick meal too often, in the past. She says she tried and failed to diet the old-fashioned way many times.
Two years after surgery, Hayden's kept the weight off and now eats healthier meals and adds some exercise to her daily routine – habits she struggled to achieve before gastric bypass. Eating too much makes her feel ill, a side effect of the surgery. Still, she says she has no regrets.
"There are certain rules that you'll have to follow for a lifetime. You can't eat and drink together. It's not the easy way out by any means,” Hayden said.
Health problems associated with being overweight are expected to add about $550-billion to healthcare spending in the next two decades. Dr. DeSimone says that’s a big reason insurance companies are covering more surgeries.