Tennesseans Struggle With Obesity
Erin wasn’t alone in being too overweight to enjoy life. Obesity continues to be a serious medical issue for many Tennesseans.
According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, since 2000, the obesity rate in Tennessee has steadily increased from 20.9 percent to 34.8 percent, and the state now ranks sixth in the nation for obesity.
Health issues like diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease and obesity-related cancers can stem from carrying too much weight.
People can experience other issues, too. For example, Erin had to use a CPAP machine to sleep and she experienced daily migraines as a result of her extra weight.
Statistics provided by StateofObesity.org and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
A Scientific Approach to Weight Loss
The University Bariatric Center at The University of Tennessee Medical Center provides a comprehensive approach to weight loss through diet, exercise and surgical options.
Accredited by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program, the center maintains the highest standards of patient care. It provides a wide range of services, including:
- Medical weight loss - Medications, meal replacements and behavior modification, under medical supervision
- Clinical research - Weight-loss clinical trials, giving patients access to new medications and regimens
- Weight-loss surgery - Minimally invasive procedures including gastric sleeve and gastric bypass
The multidisciplinary team of surgeons, educators and counselors partners with patients to provide a weight-loss program that addresses individual needs and helps patients achieve and maintain weight loss.
Gregory Mancini, MD, the center’s medical director, said, “Before surgery, our patients undergo an intensive education and preparation process.”
Gregory Mancini, MD, medical director of the University Bariatric Center and director of the Advanced GI MIS/Bariatric Fellowship at the UT Graduate School of Medicine.
This process starts with screenings. That’s because the center has found that many of its patients have gotten behind on their medical care. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but often the component is emotional. For example, a patient may be embarrassed that they can’t fit in a waiting-room chair. Or they may fear their primary care doctor will embarrass them about their weight.
We start with routine screenings such as mammograms, blood work, Pap smears and endoscopy,” said Mancini. “This helps us detect any diseases and conditions that might have been missed. Our patients can then get any needed treatment as they progress through the weight-loss process."
After the screenings, the center’s patients learn about diet, exercise and lifestyle, and begin a medically monitored diet, which is overseen by the center staff. Some patients must reduce their weight in order to be healthy enough for the weight-loss surgery. Others are able to lose enough weight successfully on the diet and don’t need surgery.
Success isn’t just measured in pounds lost, but in overall health. Over the last 20 years, the goal of weight loss surgery shifted from measuring how many pounds a person loses to measuring how healthy a person becomes as the weight is lost.
For example, said Mancini, “We can measure this by the reduction in diabetes medication a patient takes, or in noting that they no longer need a CPAP machine because their sleep apnea symptoms have improved.”
In addition to the support of the center’s staff, Erin’s family rallied around her. “They asked what my goal for the surgery was, and I said to walk Bright Angel with Maegan.”
Erin’s dad, who turned 87 this year, said he would show his support by hiking the trail with her. Then the rest of the family surprised Erin by committing, too.