Understanding the Obesity Epidemic

Stories of Caring

Understanding the Obesity Epidemic

Understanding the Obesity Epidemic

“I’m alive.”

Christmas, 2014, Katherine awoke with a clear sense of gratitude about the bariatric surgery that she credits as having saved her life. “I wasn’t waiting for the stroke or heart attack. I was alive physically, mentally and in spirit. I had choices and a life I didn’t have for many years.”

Before her April 2014 procedure*, years of carrying nearly 300 pounds on her 5-foot-7-inch-frame had taken a heavy toll on her health. She took 14 daily medications to manage a litany of complications from obesity – Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, numbness, urinary problems and more. Today, with her diabetes reversed, the 57-year-old takes no insulin. She is pain-free and has low cholesterol and blood pressure. Her daily routine includes just one medication. Most important, she says, she has welcomed a new grandson into the world and is able, finally, to “do” for herself.

Around the world, millions suffer obesity’s devastation. Governments and patients grapple with the overwhelming costs of treating over 30 co-morbid diseases– including heart attacks, strokes, even cancer – that accompany it. The World Health Organization estimates 600 million adults were obese in 20141, and the epidemic continues to grow.

Since 2000, Ethicon has taken the lead to stem the tide by driving a deeper understanding of the science of obesity through metabolic research and clinical trials. STAMPEDE (Surgical Treatment And Medications Potentially Eradicate Diabetes Efficiently)2 in 2012 documented bariatric surgery’s effect on uncontrolled diabetes and in 2014 provided three-year results supporting its longer-lasting effects.

Across Johnson & Johnson, we are vocal advocates to elevate bariatric surgery from a weight-loss tactic to a life-changing intervention to restore health by potentially reducing co-morbidities. We’re taking this knowledge to doctors globally in the broadest, free public forum of a massive open online course (MOOC) and to patients through an online tool to help them gauge a bariatric procedure’s potential impact on their chronic disease.

“For many obese patients, eating less and exercising more don’t work,” says bariatric surgeon Jon Bruce, MD, who performed Katherine’s sleeve gastrectomy. “That approach doesn’t respect that metabolic issues prevent them from losing weight.”

After two futile years searching for help, “The disease process had beaten me,” Katherine recalls. She finally confided in Lea, an Ethicon sales representative, whom she had come to know. “I broke down and begged her to help me,” Katherine says. “Without Lea, I would have never found Dr. Bruce. I thank them every day for my life. I am living proof that what you do matters.”

* Any surgical procedure may present risks. Individual patient results may vary and are not indicative of all outcomes.

1 Source Data – World Health Organization Obesity and overweight Fact sheet N°311 Updated January 2015 http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/

2 Schauer PR, Bhatt DL, Kirwan JP, et al. Bariatric Surgery versus Intensive Medical Therapy for Diabetes – 3-Year Outcomes. NEJM. 2014;370: 2002-2013. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1401329. Accessed May 22, 2014.