Obesity is a complex condition with genetic, environmental, cultural and psychological causes that cannot be blamed on a simple lack of willpower.

Overview and Symptoms

In the United States, obesity affects one in five individuals in the general population. Diets alone rarely produce lasting weight loss results for obese individuals.

Obesity is now the second-leading cause of preventable death in the United States. An estimated 300,000 people a year die from obesity and obesity-related disease.

Extremely obese people have a shorter lifespan than non-obese people. Medical conditions associated with obesity include:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stroke
  • Arthritis
  • Several types of cancer
  • Psychological effects, including shame, guilt and depression


BIDMC offers various types of surgical and non-surgical procedures for obesity. Surgical treatment for obesity is not for everyone who is overweight. It is usually reserved for people who have "severe obesity." A tool called body mass index (BMI) is used to measure the level of obesity. Surgery is not usually performed on someone with a BMI of less than 40, though there are exceptions.

BMI takes both height and weight into account, giving a more accurate picture of body size than weight alone.

Calculate Your BMI

Surgical and Non-surgical Treatment Options

Losing weight can help improve and even eliminate some obesity-related conditions. For seriously obese patients who have been unsuccessful in other weight loss methods, weight loss surgery may be a life-saving intervention — for many patients, the risks of remaining obese are more significant than the risks of complications from surgery.

For people who have less weight to lose and don’t qualify for weight loss surgery, our bariatric endoscopy program offers endoscopic (inserting a flexible tube and light down the esophagus into the stomach) procedures that can help people to lose 15-20% of their body weight.

Weight Loss Surgery

The division of Weight Loss Surgery is one of Boston's oldest and most experienced bariatric centers with a multidisciplinary, dedicated team of specially trained doctors, nurses, dietitians and social works.

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Bariatric Endoscopy

The BIDMC Center for Bariatric Endoscopy can help you reach your weight loss goals without surgery, using innovative approaches to weight loss. These newer and less invasive endoscopic procedures mean no incisions, no scars and a faster recovery.

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