Yesterday morning I caught a glimpse of the Today show, featuring guest Star Jones on a panel alongside Dr. Nancy Snyderman and Donnie Deutsch.
You doubtless know Star most as the controversial former co-host of The View, who famously ‘lied’ about undergoing gastric bypass surgery after she lost a reported 160 pounds. Only after much media speculation and public pressure did Star cave in and come clean.
Since then Star has hosted her own show on Court TV and appeared on Celebrity Apprentice… but the first thing that jumped out at me on yesterday’s show was that Star was looking somewhat larger than she has in some time. Remember how stick thin Star first looked post surgery…
Which brings up a point I’ve made here before at Angry Trainer Fitness. Gastric bypass is not a miracle cure for excessive weight gain…
Star Jones is not alone of course. Randy Jackson, Al Roker, Carnie Wilson and Sharon Osbourne are all avowed members of the celebrity weight loss surgery club. But here’s the rub. Gastric bypass is meant to be a life saving, last ditch effort for morbidly obese individuals. And to be clear, morbidly obese is defined as being at death’s door. Were any of the above celebrities really in THAT bad a state? I don’t know the full medical histories of these men and women, but personally, I doubt it.
In case you don’t know what a gastric bypass procedure involves let me offer a refresher. Surgeons literally “bypass” 2/3 or more of your stomach and leave nothing but a pocket sized pouch (about the size of an egg) in its place. How does that help you ask? Simple, you just can’t eat as much as you’ll only be able to fit a few ounces of food in your belly – INITIALLY that is. So immediately after surgery, your daily caloric intake is greatly reduced and you lose weight.
Sometimes recipients of gastric bypass opt for the less invasive Lap Band procedure, where your stomach is tied off with a rubber band. The problem – you can gain all the weight back. In fact, in past seasons of NBC’s hit The Biggest Loser, a few contestants that were near or over 400 pounds had previously undergone gastric surgery!
The reasons for this are quite simple. For starters, the stomach can stretch. So however much your doctor trimmed – it can, and will, expand if you continually try to overeat. And once your stomach regains its size you’ll once again be able to eat more food, take in more calories, and ultimately gain all the weight back. Look at the Carnie Wilson – she’s hardly the poster child for weight loss surgery success – in fact she ended up on Celebrity Fit Club a few years after surgery! And Al Roker has appeared to yo-yo post surgery for years now.
But the real issue is deeper. Much deeper. Many people who are obese and over-consume food need help beyond a trainer and a doctor. Generally they have serious emotional issues to deal with and while a drug user or alcoholic may be able to hide their vices, people with food demons literally wear their issues for all to see. And while there are support groups, and (supposedly) pre-surgery requisites, they all fall miserably short. I’ll say it again – there is no quick fix.
Back to Star Jones. For sure she’s had a tough time these past few years with her health. She’s had gastric bypass and two open chest surgeries – and I’m afraid I see her following in the footsteps of so many others, and gaining the weight back. While Star’s weight gain may not be incredibly noticeable, she has gained in my estimate between 10 and 20 pounds.
My issue is this – everyone I see who’s had weight loss surgery looks terrible – unhealthy and malnourished. And that’s probably because they are! I’ve heard reports of some patients eating as little as 800 calories a day, and even Al Roker admitted he was eating only 1,300 calories per day – while working out with a trainer 5 days per week! This is simply not enough nutrition. In order for a diet and exercise plan to be successful, it needs to be realistic. And from what I’ve read about these surgeries and post op nutrition plans, they’re the farthest from real as you can get.
At the end of the day, this life risking surgery doesn’t do anything that you can’t do yourself. In fact I see gastric bypass as a hindrance, because it takes the responsibility and accountability away from the patient. It’s almost as if someone is rationing food for you, and you simply just can’t eat as much. I view that as a disservice and not a great tool to teach individuals with eating issues how to be healthy and change their lifestyle. But I will say this – if you are at risk of dying from being overweight, then this surgery may be a last chance option. I do understand that.
But to me it seems that more and more people, especially celebrities and the wealthy, are looking to the medical community for shortcuts and a quick fix. And that’s scary. For Star Jones’ sake, I hope she takes a different path and works on being healthy and fit the RIGHT way. I wish her luck…
But what do you think about Gastric Bypass? Have you had it or know someone who did? What were the results? And do you think the process is being over-prescribed?