The healthy guidelines for weight loss surgery were lowered last year from a BMI of 40, now down to a BMI of 30.  This means that more Louisiana residents are now eligible.  Dr. Karalyn Bentley, a surgeon at The Louisiana Center for Bariatrics in Baton Rouge said:

“And anyone with a BMI greater than 35, regardless of whether they have diabetes or high blood pressure, or sleep apnea should be considered,” said Bentley.

According to the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases:

  • Nearly 1 in 3 adults (30.7%) are overweight.2
  • More than 2 in 5 adults (42.4%) have obesity.2
  • About 1 in 11 adults (9.2%) have severe obesity.2
  • According to 2017–2018 NHANES data
  • About 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 (16.1%) are overweight.3
  • Almost 1 in 5 children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 (19.3%) have obesity.3
  • About 1 in 16 children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 (6.1%) have severe obesity.3

What is BMI?

From the NIDDK:

BMI is a tool to estimate and screen for overweight and obesity in adults and children. BMI is defined as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. BMI is related to the amount of fat in the body. A high amount of fat can raise the risk of many health problems. A health care professional can determine if a person’s health may be at risk because of his or her weight.

18.5 to 24.9Normal, or healthy, weight
25 to 29.9Overweight
30+Obesity (including severe obesity)
40+Severe obesity
Overweight people in Glasgow City Centre
Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images


Unfortunately, 39% of adults in Louisiana are considered obese, and the Pelican State consistently ranks in the top 10 of the most obese states.  Because food is such an important part of Louisiana culture, but Bentley says when an individual's health is compromised, options are available.

“Having bariatric surgery does not mean that you can never have your favorite foods ever again. It just means that we’re going to have those foods and enjoy them in moderation,” said Bentley.

But just because someone is obese, doesn't mean their first option is weight loss surgery.  Bentley said the surgery center offers other weight loss options including non-surgical weight loss interventions, nutrition counseling, and support groups.

“It’s not a diet or a quick fix. We’re really looking at long-term lifestyle changes that a patient can live with and still be a part of their community and a part of their family,” said Bentley.

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