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What You Need to Know about Gov Chris Christie’s Weight Loss Surgery

Posted by Joan Salge Blake  May 9, 2013 11:42 AM

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Source:  National Institutes of Health
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey made a very personal decision this year to undergo weight loss surgery to help him win the battle with the bathroom scale.  His choice of weight loss strategy could prove to be effective as, according to research, patients can expect to lose from about 30 to over 85 percent of their excess body weight, depending upon the type of surgery performed.

In the Governor’s situation, he chose a procedure that involves using an adjustable band that is surgically inserted and wrapped around the juncture of the esophagus and stomach.  Once inserted, the band is tightened creating a smaller stomach pouch at the entrance of the full-size stomach (see illustration).  The smaller pouch can hold about 1 cup of food whereas the stomach typically holds 4 cups.  When a person eats, this petite pouch fills up fairly quickly causing a feeling of immediate fullness so that the individual stops eating. 

With fewer calories entering the stomach and ultimately the digestive system, weight loss occurs in the body.  According to Kellene Isom, a registered dietitian and Bariatric Program Manager at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a person who was typically consuming 3,000 to 4,000 calories daily prior to the procedure will be restricted to 1,200 calories a day once the surgery is done.

While weight loss surgery may sound like an intriguing solution to shed pounds, there are some nutritional and lifestyle issues to consider.  Ironically, many obese individuals are actually malnourished prior to the procedure as their diets tend to be high in calorie-rich foods (sweetened beverages and desserts) but low in vitamins and minerals.   This puts them at risk for further nutritional deficiencies after the procedure when their calories are so drastically reduced it is impossible to meet one daily needs.   In particular, obese individuals are at a higher risk for vitamin D deficiency due to not only a poor diet but also because this fat soluble vitamin gets buried in the body’s fat stores so it is not readily accessible to be utilized by the body.  In other words, the vitamin is in the body but can’t be activated and utilized so vitamin D blood levels are low.

After the procedure, your diet will be forever altered.  Isom’s patients are instructed not to drink liquids with meals to avoid stretching the pouch.  They must give up caffeine as it can be dehydrating and an irritant to the stomach, and they must also forgo carbonated beverages as it often causes discomfort.  A multivitamin and mineral supplement must be continued indefinitely to ensure that deficiencies don’t occur years after the procedure.

Lastly, the weight loss isn’t necessarily permanent.  “Patients typically gain back about 10 to 15 percent of the weight loss," claims Isom.  “However, the procedure can be helpful for some people.  It can help individuals develop  a reconnection with their body as to when they are truly hungry, and even more importantly, when they are full in order to better manage their weight.” 

                                              Follow Joan on Twitter at: joansalgeblake
Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.
This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical associate professor and registered dietitian at Boston University in the Nutrition Program. Joan is the author of Nutrition &You, 2nd Edition, More »

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