Obesity is one of the most challenging healthcare issues facing the United States and the rest of the world. According to the most recent estimates, two-thirds of Americans are overweight, and one third are considered obese.
Obesity has devastating consequences on the patient’s health. It’s well known that obesity can cause many obesity-related conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and heart disease, to name a few.
“The direct costs of obesity can reach a staggering $190 billion or 21% of the annual overall health care expenses in the US, not to mention the indirect costs because of loss of productivity” said Dr. El Maher El Chaar.
Dr. Maher El Chaar is the Fellowship Director of Bariatric Surgery at St Luke’s University Hospital and Health Network and the author of the best seller “Dr. E’s Guide to Weight Loss Surgery….The Weight is Over”
According to Dr. El Chaar, Bariatric surgery is one of the most effective tools available to surgeons to achieve a significant and long-lasting weight loss to improve patients’ health.
“Bariatric surgery is an amazing and very effective tool, but more needs to be done to combat obesity and have a larger impact on the lives of millions of patients who suffer from obesity and have no access to bariatric surgery. Despite our best efforts, we are only able to operate on a small fraction of patients who need surgery” said Dr. El Chaar when asked about bariatric surgery.
Dr. El Chaar was recently recognized by the American Society and Metabolic Surgery (ASMBS) Political Action Committee for his commitment to advancing surgical care through advocacy. He has also published more than 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts, abstracts, videos, and book chapters on the topic of obesity and bariatric surgery.
“Advocacy, education, and research are the only ways to combat obesity in the future” said Dr. El Chaar. “At St Luke’s University, we continue to be strong advocates for access to bariatric surgery, but we also continue to innovate and research new ways surgical or otherwise to better serve our patients” he added.
The weight management center at St Luke’s University is conducting many trials and is very active in researching new treatment methods to fight obesity and the relationship between obesity and other diseases.
Recently, the center published a widely cited manuscript looking at the relationship between obesity and the high fatality rates of blacks and Hispanics following COVID-19. “This is only one example of how research can impact the lives of our patients” said Dr. El Chaar when asked about his most recent research on obesity and the COVID-19 outbreak.
In addition, Dr. El Chaar and his team at St Luke’s University Hospital are studying the impact of robotics on bariatric surgery and the different ways this new and innovative technology can be utilized to improve patient outcomes. “This is a new and exciting new technology with the potential of improving patient outcomes by decreasing postoperative pain and the ability to perform complicated procedures that could not be performed otherwise” said Dr. El Chaar.