The prevalence of obesity has increased dramatically over the last several decades worldwide and is currently reaching epidemic proportions. One out of five Americans is currently obese. Morbid obesity, defined as body mass index (BMI) >40kg/m2, is associated with many diseases responsible for a high prevalence of morbidity and mortality, such as insulin-resistant diabetes mellitus, hypertension, coronary artery disease, hyperlipidemia, and sleep apnea. These direct weight-related complications eventuate in enormous health care costs. A consensus conference organized by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1991 concluded that surgical therapies offer the best long-term approach for morbid obesity.
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