Alcohol And Obesity Surgery May Prove A Dangerous Mixture

Alcohol And Obesity Surgery May Prove A Dangerous Mixture
Alcohol And Obesity Surgery May Prove A Dangerous Mixture

After years of debate we are finally coming around to the inevitable conclusion that surgery is the only truly successful and lasting solution to the problem of morbid obesity. And this is certainly not before time!

Today obesity is arguably the leading health problem in the Western world and in the US alone nearly 60 percent of the population is overweight, with close to 24 percent being obese and 3 percent severely obese. Now 3 percent might not seem like a big figure but when you consider that it is more than 9 million severely obese individuals that is a pretty major problem.

Despite the fact that more and more attention is being turned towards the problem of obesity and its treatment, it is surprising just how much remains to be learnt about the condition, including the affects of alcohol on people who have undergone obesity surgery.

For a time now there has been a reasonable amount of anecdotal evidence to suggest that people who have undergone weight loss surgery are affected more by alcohol than others but it was not until the end of last year that any attempt was made to look at the extent of the problem.

In a fairly small-scale study the affects of alcohol on 19 people who had undergone weight loss surgery was compared to the affects on 17 control subjects. The individuals taking part in the study each drank a 5 ounce glass of red wine and their breath alcohol was then measured at 5 minute intervals until it fell back to zero.

The study revelaed that alcohol levels peaked at a higher level in the weight loss patients and also took much longer to return to zero. But, most interestingly, the study also showed that just }a single|one} small glass of wine was enough to put the breath alcohol level in a number of weight loss surgery patients above the legal alcohol level for driving in several states.

The explanation for the increased affects of alcohol on weight loss surgery patients is quite simple to understand because surgery both reduces the size of the stomach and bypasses part of the intestine, both areas of the body that play a significant role in breaking down alcohol before it gets into the bloodstream.

So precisely what does this mean for weight loss surgery patients?

Well, aside from the clear need to take care and most definitely to avoid driving after drinking even small quantities of alcohol, the implications for weight loss surgery patients do in fact go a bit wider.

A particular problem is that alcohol acts as a relaxant and this results in difficulties with post-operative weight loss and to maintaining weight loss. As alcohol relaxes the stomach, including the lower esophageal sphincter, and the intestine, patients who enjoy alcohol can eat more and the presence of alcohol in effect counters the affects of surgery. As if this was not bad enough a lot of people are more socially active after surgery and this sometimes means an increased consumption of alcohol.

There still needs to be considerably more research carried out of course but, in the end, the fact is that people who have undergone obesity surgery need to be aware of the possible risks of alcohol and watch their consumption accordingly.

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