SOURCE: American Obesity Association

November 09, 2005 08:00 ET

New Survey Findings Uncover the Dramatic Negative Effects of Severe Obesity on Intimacy, Social Interactions and Employment Opportunities

American Obesity Association Launches "Weigh Your Options" Campaign to Meet the Unique Needs of the Severely Obese

WASHINGTON, DC -- (MARKET WIRE) -- November 9, 2005 -- New survey results released today by the American Obesity Association (AOA) highlight the significant impact of severe obesity (also referred to as morbid obesity) on quality of life in regards to physical intimacy, social interactions and employment opportunities, as well as the considerable barriers this population faces when attempting to lose weight. To help educate this population about their weight-loss options, the American Obesity Association, in partnership with Inamed Health, are launching an educational campaign called "Weigh Your Options," which includes a national awareness campaign and the launch of the website www.WeighYourOptions.com, to help Americans of all sizes achieve successful, long-term weight loss and improved health.

Obesity is a disease that affects nearly one-third of the adult population in the United States, with an estimated 18.4 million Americans considered severely or morbidly obese, which is clinically defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 35 or approximately 100 or more pounds overweight.

"The needs of this specific population of severe and morbidly obese people are rarely addressed in the larger discussion of the nation's obesity epidemic, even though this group deals with the most dramatic negative effects of the disease," said Morgan Downey, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the AOA. "The Weigh Your Options campaign was created to give this group of people a voice and address their concerns regarding how severe obesity impacts their lives. We hope that the information provided by this educational campaign will enable them to start down the road to weight loss and better health."

The AOA surveyed 519 Americans, ages 21-72 with a BMI of 35-78. The results showed that almost 40 percent of the survey participants in committed relationships were intimate with their partners less than once a month, as compared to 17 percent of the general population. The survey also found that during intimate moments, weight causes feelings of embarrassment, makes this population hold back physically and emotionally, impacts the frequency of intimacy and even whether they are able to be physically intimate at all.

Almost two-thirds of respondents (ages 21-44) feel like a spectator or an outsider because of their weight, and many participants noted that it is a barrier to participation in social activities. Additionally, one-third of those surveyed believe that they have been turned down for a job they were qualified for because of their weight, and some of these respondents feel that it has happened multiple times.

For people who are severely and morbidly obese, the combination of diet and exercise may not be the best weight-loss solution for long-term weight loss. The survey uncovered that the most significant barrier to losing weight is the inability to exercise because of weight or weight-related health problems.

Several studies have shown that patients on diets, exercise programs, or medication are able to lose approximately 10 percent of their body weight but tend to regain two-thirds of it within one year, and almost all of it within five years. Another study found that less than five percent of patients in weight-loss programs were able to maintain their reduced weight after five years.

"These data make a compelling argument for weight-loss surgery as a good option for the severely and morbidly obese," said Dr. Christine Ren of New York University Medical Center. "The LAP-BAND® System is an ideal option for many patients because it limits the amount of food that can be consumed and provides an earlier feeling of satiety without the stomach stapling and intestinal rerouting necessary with gastric bypass operations."

Studies have demonstrated that weight-loss surgery, as compared to non-surgical treatments, yields the longest period of sustained weight loss in severely and morbidly obese people. Newer and less invasive options with lower rates of complications, such as the LAP-BAND System, have become available in recent years to help this population reach a healthy weight. A recent U.S. clinical paper demonstrated an average excess weight loss of 54 percent on the third year after LAP-BAND surgery.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN OBESITY ASSOCIATION

The AOA is a national, non-profit advocacy and educational organization based in Washington, DC. Founded in 1995, the AOA's mission is to promote the recognition of obesity as a disease, to educate the public about the health risks of obesity, and to advocate for greater research on obesity and coverage by managed-care organizations for obesity treatment and prevention. The organization's website is www.Obesity.org.

ABOUT INAMED HEALTH

INAMED Health develops, manufactures and markets innovative medical devices for the treatment of obesity. Their goal is to be the world leader in delivering minimally invasive devices and services to achieve and support sustained weight loss, reduce health risks associated with obesity and enhance patients' quality of life. Current products include the LAP-BAND System, the least invasive and only reversible and adjustable weight-loss surgery available. The company's website is www.InamedHealth.com.

ABOUT THE LAP-BAND SYSTEM

The LAP-BAND System was developed to facilitate long-term weight loss to reduce the health risks associated with severe and morbid obesity. During the procedure, a surgeon inserts an inflatable band laparoscopically and places it around the upper part of the stomach to create a small stomach pouch limiting the amount of food that can be eaten at one time. The smaller stomach pouch creates a feeling of fullness and limits food consumption, resulting in weight loss. The surgery has low rates of serious complications, and is adjustable and reversible. It is a safe and effective weight-loss surgery that has been performed on almost 200,000 patients worldwide since its approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June 2001.

ABOUT THE WEIGH YOUR OPTIONS SURVEY

This survey was designed to gauge the impact that obesity has on the lives of people who are severely and morbidly obese. The Weigh Your Options online survey was conducted by B/R/S Group on behalf of the American Obesity Association and Inamed Health between August 16-18, 2005 among a nationwide sample of 259 American women ages 21-70 and 260 American men ages 26-72 who have had a BMI of at least 35 for five years or more. B/R/S Group estimates with 95 percent certainty that the results for the samples of women and men have a sampling error of +/- 4.3 percentage points.

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