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Bariatric surgery helps Columbia couple lose more than 150 pounds

Laura and John Huntley, of Columbia, in their home. The Huntley's have both recently had weight loss surgery. (MU Health Care)

At the Huntley house, dinnertime means stir-fry. Laura chops fresh vegetables while her husband, John, slices the chicken.

Today’s meals are a stark contrast, though, from the couple’s previous food choices.

“Coca-Cola was a gateway drug for me. If I started with a Coke, no matter what diet I was on, I was going all the way in to greasy foods and sugary snacks after that,” Laura said.

For years, John and Laura struggled with their eating habits, weight and infertility, and they worried even more serious health issues were looming.

“That was probably one of the sources of anxiety that would wake me up in the middle of the night the most,” John said. “You’re OK now, but this is not going anywhere good, and you need to do something.”

The Huntleys’ story is a common one, according to Andrew Wheeler, MD, the chief of metabolic and bariatric surgery at University of Missouri Health Care. He says roughly two-thirds of American adults are considered overweight or obese, and most of them will struggle to lose weight with diet and exercise alone.

“What studies say is that simply with diet and exercise, about 97 percent of people will not succeed in losing even 10 percent of their body weight and keeping it off long term,” Wheeler said.

So, Wheeler performed gastric bypass surgery, first on John, then Laura.

“No. 1, it provides some restriction, so a person is full with even as little as half a cup of food,” Wheeler said. “No. 2, because of the bypassed intestine, it improves things such as diabetes, while simultaneously controlling hunger.”

Just three months since the surgery, the Huntleys already are living a more active life together. They’ve lost a collective 150 pounds, and feel better physically and mentally.

“I’m more available for my kids. I have more energy with them, play more with them,” Laura said.

To learn more about bariatric surgery and find out whether you might be a candidate, click here.

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