Wednesday, September 22, 2004
Is Obesity a Disease? Is Gastric Bypass a Cure?

Gastric bypass surgery – some consider it a cure-all for weight loss, others refer to it as a copout, still others regard it as a last resort. Why are Americans so desperate to lose weight? Besides the obvious cosmetic benefits, many also need to lose weight to simply survive. According to research from the Wish Center, the top reason for losing excess body fat is to increase your chances of living and decrease your chance of developing diabetes, cancer or other life-threatening problems. Today’s guests have tried it all to lose weight, including gastric surgery, with varied results. Read more about their experiences below:


At the age of 16, Krista felt hopeless and couldn’t understand how she had come to weight 347 pounds. She was extremely active and involved in sports, had healthy eating habits and there was no history of obesity in her family. Yet no matter what she tried, the weight wouldn’t come off. Desperate to lose the pounds, Krista opted for gastric bypass surgery, a rarity at that age since most are not allowed to undergo the surgery until age 18. Now at age 19, Krista has never been happier, having lost 180 pounds. She believes that surgery was the only option for her and that obesity is a disease that needs medical attention.

Pam is the third person in her family to undergo weight-loss surgery. Like Krista, she highly advocates gastric bypass to those who’ve tried everything else in the quest to lose weight. Pam found herself at 252 pounds after the difficulty of trying to slim down after three pregnancies. Though she had tried programs like Metabolife and Weight Watchers, she had seen the effects of gastric bypass on her brother and sister and decided to go for it. Now she says her relationship with her husband is better than ever and that she is finally able to tackle the demands of her busy life.


Though Pam and Krista saw weight-loss surgery as their only option, Sharon never considered it an option at all. Sharon hit a wall when her weight reached 300 pounds and knew she needed to do something. With her husband’s help, she embarked on a diet and exercise quest that eventually shaved off 160 pounds within 18 months. Because she was able to accomplish such extreme loss without the aid of surgery, Sharon believes that those who do go the route of surgery are lazy and foolish. She maintains that the reward of losing weight on your own is much greater and that those who say diet and exercise haven’t worked for them just aren’t working hard enough.

Click here to read Sharon’s tips on how she did it through diet and exercise.

What would you do if you had had two gastric bypass surgeries and you still weighed more than 500 pounds? Welcome to Nikki’s world. Nikki says that she is living proof that gastric bypass surgery doesn’t always work. After both of her surgeries, the staple line in her stomach broke and she quickly gained all of the weight back due to her tendency to overeat. Nikki warns that those who are emotional eaters should stay away from the surgery because she believes that those who are attached to food will find a way to eat large amounts no matter what.

Karen is another living example of the flip side of gastric bypass surgery. Though she underwent the surgery nine years ago, she is still reeling from the negative health effects. Like Nikki, her staple line broke and Karen went into septic shock, which in turn caused her to have to learn to walk and talk all over again. She also deals with hypoglycemia, hernias and burning tongue syndrome. Karen says that despite having lost 250 pounds, the weight loss is not worth the near brushes with death she has had as a result of having gastric bypass surgery.

At age 22 and about 450 pounds, Sarah is preparing to go on her journey with gastric bypass surgery. She says that though she is aware of the risks, they are worth it if they will help her lead a productive “normal” life. Like others on today’s panel, Sarah has tried “everything” to lose weight and nothing has worked. The show plans on following up with Sarah after her surgery at the Wish Center – stay tuned to our Guest Updates section for her progress.

Video Clip: Watch as today’s guests debate the merits of gastric bypass surgery.

Quick Clicks

Do you have an amazing weight loss story? Click here to tell us about it.

Read tips from today’s guest Sharon Futrell on healthy eating and losing weight.

Do you want to learn more about gastric bypass surgery? Check out today’s Advice Archive feature: Things You Should Know About Gastric Bypass Surgery.

For more information on the Wish Center, please visit: