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I watched a program on 60 minutes last night that reviewed the impact of gastric bypass surgery not just on obesity, but on all of the other risk factors that a person takes on when they are overweight. The results weren’t surprising, but rather affirming based on my experience of working with people who have battle obesity and won.

The stories of the eight people they interviewed were all dramatic in their own right. One lost 160 pounds, another 96 pounds, another 130 pounds and one lost 260 pounds. Incredible weight loss. All 8 of them had type 2 diabetes prior to the gastric bypass. All 8 of them are now off of medication and no longer have diabetes. Some of them had sleep apnea and now none of them do.

One of the 8 was a doctor who had always recommended gastric bypass as a measure of last resort. He now says that he believes the benefits far outweigh the risks in the morbidly obese and believes that more people should consider the surgery rather than face a life of increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Life insurance companies are often characterized as beating up on the overweight by offering them higher rates than those who, according to their build charts, are less of a risk. I know the feeling of being offered a higher rate than I think I deserve, but the reality is that when it comes to obesity there are so many potential collateral health issues, that companies aren’t over reacting. The best that someone who is overweight can hope for is to lock in as good a rate as they can before they have any other health issues. After getting coverage they should go about reducing the risk through weight loss whether by diet, exercise, gastric bypass or stomach banding and then reapply for a better rate. The truth is that the life insurance rate shouldn’t be the impetus to take the necessary steps. Prolonging your life should be reason enough.

Another statistic that came from the show, a rather amazing thing when you look at the long term success of diet and exercise, is that between 80 and 90% of those who have gastric bypass don’t regain the weight. And, with the procedure now done almost always laproscopically, it is much safer than in the past.

Bottom line. It should be for your own life and health, but if the reason is for better life insurance, the end result is the same. Lose the weight and your chances of serious disease go down, way down. Lose the weight and you live longer and have more fun, way more fun. Do it because it’s the right thing to do.