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Statistics demonstrate that close to one third of the US population faces the challenges of living with obesity (Kuczmarksi, Flegal, Campbell, & Johnson, 1994). Because this problem is so widespread, there is a great deal of literature on the impact of obesity on health and well-being. Much of the focus has been on assessing medical risks. It has been reported that obesity is associated with 5 of 10 leading causes of death in the United States, including heart disease, some types of cancer, stroke, diabetes, and artherosclerosis (Berg, 1993) and that the cost of obesity-related illnesses is more than $45 billion annually (Wolf & Colditz, 1996).
"Morbid" obesity is defined by a body mass index (BMI) of >39, 100 lb more than ideal body weight, or more than 100% over ideal weight (Rabner & Greenstein, 1991). There is consistent evidence to support the belief that morbid obesity poses serious risks to physical health and has a significant impact on psychosocial well-being. Most researchers conclude that bariatric surgery is currently the most viable option for successful weight loss and maintenance in the morbidly obese individual.
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