After many years of discussion we are finally coming around to the unavoidable conclusion that surgery is the only really effective and lasting solution to the problem of morbid obesity. And not before time!
Right now obesity is probably the leading health problem in the Western world and in the USA alone about 60 percent of people are overweight, with almost 24 percent being obese and 3 percent severely obese. Now 3 percent may not appear to be high figure but when you consider that it equates to more than 9 million morbidly obese people this is a fairly big problem.
In spite of the fact that attention is increasingly being turned towards the problem of obesity and its cure, it is surprising how much we still have to learn about the condition, including the affects of alcohol on individuals who have undergone gastric bypass surgery.
For some time now there has been a fair amount of anecdotal evidence to suggest that individuals who have had obesity surgery are more susceptible to the affects of alcohol than others but it was not until late last year that any real attempt was made to determine the extent of the problem.
In a reasonably low-key study the affects of alcohol on 19 individuals who had undergone obesity surgery was compared to the affects on 17 control subjects. The people in the study were each given a small 5 ounce glass of red wine and their breath alcohol was then analyzed at 5 minute intervals until it had fallen back to zero.
The study discovered that alcohol levels reached a higher level in the obesity patients and also took much longer to fall back to zero. However, most interestingly, the study also demonstrated that just a single small glass of wine was enough to push the breath alcohol level in several obesity surgery patients over the legal alcohol level for driving in several states.
The explanation for the added affects of alcohol on obesity surgery patients is fairly easy to understand because surgery both reduces the volume of the stomach and bypasses a section of the intestine, both areas of the body which play a significant role in breaking down alcohol before it finds its way into the bloodstream.
So just what does this mean for obesity surgery patients?
Well, apart from the clear need to take care and certainly to refrain from driving after drinking even very small amounts of alcohol, the implications for obesity surgery patients do in fact go a little wider.
One particular problem is that alcohol is a relaxant and this causes problems 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 counteracts the affects of surgery. As if this were not bad enough many individuals become more active socially following surgery and this often means an increasing intake of alcohol.
There will still need to be considerably more research carried out but, at the end of the day, the fact is that individuals who have undergone gastric bypass surgery need to be aware of the risks of alcohol and watch their consumption accordingly.