Over 93 million adults in the United States are obese. It’s the second leading cause of preventable death in the country.
Chris Zito was one of those Americans.
Like so many others, diets and exercise didn’t work for the over 400-pound, 41-year-old TV producer. Nothing kept him motivated.
Less than 5 percent of people with severe obesity, that’s 80-100 pounds or more weight to lose, are not able to do it with just diet and exercise according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I thought when I got engaged, that would be the motivation I need to lose the weight -- didn't work,” he remembered.
He couldn’t go to the park with his 4-year-old daughter without being out of breath. Walking up the stairs at work was a challenge. Even getting up from a chair was getting harder.
Six months ago, he decided to undergo gastric bypass surgery. A procedure to shrink his stomach to the size of an egg.
Over the course of 10 years, three different doctors had recommended he have the surgery.
Now, it was time.
“I'm not diabetic yet. I don't have heart problems yet. I don't have liver problems yet. But they're all just on the horizon.”
When Zito’s dad died earlier this year from stage 4 colon cancer, he knew he was facing the same risk.
“I want to make sure my kid doesn't wonder -- doesn't have to worry about that kind of stuff,” he said.
Dr. Thien Nguyen with Overlake Medical Clinics Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Center met with Zito. He would perform the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, one of the most common weight loss procedures in the country.
Patients typically lose about one-third of their body weight within 18-24 months of this surgery according to Overlake.
To qualify, Zito had to lose 10 percent of his body weight. He lost the 40 pounds by eating three protein shakes, a Lean Cuisine and a cup of vegetables a day.
It was hard, but he knew he didn’t have another choice. He knew he couldn’t do it on his own.
“If I don't do something drastic, and if I don't supercharge my weight loss, which is what this surgery is going to do, how long do I have?”