Parkway offers tools to combat obesity

By Zach Patberg

The Centers for Obesity Related Illness combine surgery, diet, exercise and therapy to treat people 80 to 100 pounds overweight — a condition many physicians consider a disease that carries with it high risks of more than 35 other diseases, such as diabetes and heart attacks.”The CORI approach to helping those who are morbidly obese reach the goal of lifelong weight management supports Parkway's mission to serve the community,” said Robert Aquino, the hospital's CEO, who cited a statistic that 16 percent of Queens residents are obese.CORI performs a variety of bariatric surgeries, the safest and most effective being the micro-pouch gastric bypass, according to the centers' co-founder Dr. Michael Schuhknecht. CORI's first patient at Parkway, whose first name was aptly enough Genesis, was operated on recently using this procedure, Schuhknecht said.At 5-feet-2 the woman weighed 280 pounds and suffered from diabetes and hypertension. After a few months of screening and paperwork, Schuhknecht and his partner, Dr. James Sapala, performed the surgery by dividing her stomach, which created a pouch the size of half a thumb. Similar to stapling a stomach, the pouch acts as a preliminary stomach that if filled too fast by overeating will cause the person to vomit. It also discourages sweets in the diet, since ingesting refined sugar causes severe diarrhea. Like an aversion technique sometimes used by psychologists to cure alcoholism, the surgery forces a person to change his or her eating behavior, to chew more slowly, consume less and eat healthier, Schuhknecht said.He said he and his partners have operated on 4,500 patients using the procedure, almost all of whom lost 85 percent of their excess weight for life.To ensure that the fat is gone forever, Schuhknecht said CORI, which operates in New York, Michigan, Illinois, Florida and soon Louisiana, has a team of nutritionists, fitness experts and psychologists to follow up with the patient after surgery. Since 1991, the number of obese adults nationwide has doubled to nearly 25 percent of the population, according to a 2003 city Health Department survey. The survey said more than half of the city's adults are either overweight or obese — a distinction defined by one's Body Mass Index, which considers weight in proportion to height.”With CORI as our partner, we can bring to local residents a comprehensive, high-quality program with proven outcomes that incorporates medically supervised weight reduction, as well as surgical options,” Aquino said. Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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