The fact that we are in an obesity epidemic is no secret, and the fact that many people have weight loss surgery even less so. In fact, in 2008, an estimated 220,000 people had bariatric surgery in this country alone. However, obesity is not a simple thing to solve. If it was a case of giving someone an operation, and the problem would be gone, a lot more people would be offered the surgery. Rather, obesity needs to be seen as a disease, one that is treated by surgery, but not cured. The cure is in the commitment and compliance of patients.

Not all weight loss surgery is successful. Ignoring, for a minute, the very low percentage of people in which the surgery is not successful because of complications, the majority of unsuccessful surgeries are down to people not accepting that they have to treat themselves. Regardless of the type of bariatric surgery someone has, the only way to truly Stop Obesity for Life is by being proactive. Specifically, three issues need to be addressed.

1. Lifestyle

At its heart, obesity is caused by poor lifestyle choices. After surgery, someone has to completely change their lifestyle in order to see results. This isn’t a diet (you can cheat with dieting, or simply stop). Everything changes. You must eat more protein and less carbs, and you have to do this for the rest of your life. No more fried food or sugary snack food. No more drinking during meals, either. Eating may also make you feel sick, things may taste and smell differently, and more. All of this has a significant emotional impact, which makes it even more likely for people to turn to food. After all, obese people generally have an emotional relationship with food: they eat because this activates the reward center of their brain.

Man in the grass

2. Support

People who have had weight loss surgery should be properly supported by people who know where they have been. While family and friends can be supportive to a degree, they won’t really get it. In fact, they may grow tired of the constant talk about weight loss and food, and it is not uncommon for partners to feel threatened by the new person their partner has become. Usually, bariatric surgery patients attend support groups for about a year, and then stop. In reality, they should continue for longer, not in the least because they can become mentors to others.

3. Activity

The final thing is that, in order to truly become healthy, people have to also engage in regular physical activity. People should partake in about 20 minutes of exercise per day. Doing this without fail ensures the weight comes off and stays off. In fact, most people who put weight back on after surgery admit that they didn’t engage in physical activity.

It is common for weight loss patients to hail their bariatric team and surgeon with saving their life. But once their checkups re