America's heaviest city grapples with costs from weight-loss surgery to extra-wide hospital beds.
“There is an unlimited number of patients,” he said.
Memphis may be the heaviest city in the country, but it isn’t much of an outlier. From the trimmest state, Colorado, to the most obese, Mississippi, the entire nation has been on a perilous—and costly—upward track when it comes to extreme weight gain. Severe obesity (a BMI of 40 or more)—the kind most harmful to individual well-being and expensive to society—is rising at an alarming rate and may affect 11 percent of U.S. adults by 2030.
Dieting and exercise are the prescription for most Americans who want to lose weight, but only a minority succeed. Woodman estimates that just 3 percent of his morbidly obese patients could lose their excess weight on their own, so for most, bariatric surgery is a last-resort option. With luck, this patient will lose about 75 percent of her excess weight, putting her on track to a healthier future.
“People say that obesity is self-induced,” Woodman said. “But it doesn’t matter. We have to do something about it.”