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Challenging Obesity With Support Groups

At 267 Kg, Mr Virani was the heaviest person in the country to undergo Bariatric surgery. He had not ventured out of his house for over five years. After undergoing Sleeve Gastrectomy and 122 Kg lighter 15 months later, he now does not hesitate to attend support group meetings.

It is an established fact that human beings are social animals. We are dependent on each other. Our connections to others are key to not only our survival but also to our happiness and the overall success of our lives. While families form a preselected social group; there are groups outside the circle of immediate families too.

Mostly, people are satisfied with the support offered by their families and friends, however, this may not hold true for everyone. Thus, enter ‘Support Groups’. Support Groups are a gathering of people who share a common health concern or interest. They help people facing similar health issues cope better and feel less isolated.

When it comes to Obesity, the biggest challenge is the pressure to lose weight. The factors leading to a person’s inability to lose weight could be many, ranging from health problems to difficult lifestyle. An effective solution to become healthy is opting for Bariatric Surgery. Post which, a person is likely to experience significant weight loss and thereby gain a whole new identity.

Ms. Prabhavati is physically active after losing 70 Kg post undergoing Gastric bypass and getting rid of her excruciating joint pains. Her husband, a security supervisor had to mobilize resources to get the surgery done. Prabhavati is motivating her daughter (31 years) to undergo the same & had brought her along to meet other younger beneficiaries of surgery.

Bariatric Support group typically consists of patients who have had surgery at different time intervals. The Support group meetings regularly brings together the operated patients and encourages them to share their experiences. Most of these people have fought hard to fight a disease which not only makes them miserable but also attracts unnecessary negative social prejudices against them. Facing such attention can be a daunting affair for anybody but in case of an obese who already has a negative view about himself or herself; this attention can be catastrophic. It is even more excruciating since biases exist within their own family, physicians and close friends as well.

Thus, when these patients come together in an environment that is positive and with individuals who have faced similar situations, it is but natural for them to encourage & motivate each other. It has been proven that regular attendance at support groups has a direct impact on patient’s well-being & results.

Dr Ramen Goel, Founder, The Centre for Metabolic Surgery, holds regular support groups. A large gathering of patients attend these meets. They look forward to participate as a lot of recent scientific information, various dietary topics- like Eating out, Proteins, Mindful eating, Role of family in a Bariatric patient’s journey are covered in these meets. He says, “It is a wonderful feeling to walk together on the same path, facing identical issues and having similar goals.”

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