The latest statistics on obesity in the U.S. aren’t pretty. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 36 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese, with the estimated annual medical cost of treating conditions related to obesity totaling over $150 billion.


Obesity is far more serious than simply trying to drop a few pounds to fit into a favorite pair of jeans again or wanting to impress former classmates with how svelte you look at your next class reunion. For people dealing with obesity—defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or above—excessive weight can be the trigger for a number of serious health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, increased stroke risk and heart disease.


Bariatric surgeon Dr. Laura Choi, director of the Houston Methodist Weight Management Center-Baytown, says the center offers personalized care for patients dealing with conditions attributed to obesity through medical nutritional counseling and bariatric (weight loss) surgery.


Choi says the journey to improved health begins with patients gaining an understanding of the factors that led to their weight gain.


“Weight loss surgery helps patients cut their calorie intake, but we partner this with helping the patient make lifestyle changes,” Choi said. “Our program involves counseling and dietary education so patients can learn about their own eating habits and stay fit even after they lose the weight.”


Bariatric surgery procedures restrict the amount of food that can be eaten and/or changes the route food takes through the body so less food is absorbed. Patients whose BMI is in the morbid obesity range (40 or above) are eligible for surgery. Approximately 250,000 surgeries are performed each year in the U.S. according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.


“Patients whose BMI is in the 35-40 range are also eligible if they have existing medical conditions considered to be caused by or associated with morbid obesity,” Choi said.


Choi adds that the center offers comprehensive after-care programs that focus on nutrition, counseling and exercise to help patients cope with the physical and emotional changes following surgery. She stresses that patients must be willing to make major lifestyle and diet changes if they want to achieve the best results following any bariatric procedure.


“Sometimes people look at weight management surgery as an easy way out and are looking for surgery to fix their problems, but people coming through this program must work hard mentally, emotionally and physically in order to be successful,” she said.


For more information on the full range of weight loss services provided by the Houston Methodist Weight Management Center-Baytown, visit or call 832.556.6046.