Dr Christine Ren Fielding: Family ‘Banded’ Together

Dr. Christine Ren Fielding of NYU Langone Weight Management Program, was featured in an ABC news story about a family that she performed weight loss surgery on. In an interview with ABC News, the Scafuri family of New York explained how they have made weight loss a family affair.  Family physician, Dr. Frank Scafuri, his wife and his two siblings all received laparoscopic gastric banding (or Lap Band) surgeries.  Dr. Scafari has lost 135 pounds since his surgery, and after seeing his success, his younger sister, Jennifer, decided to have gastric banding and has since lost 70 pounds. Next, Dr. Scafuri’s wife and brother also received the surgery. While the procedure has helped all four family members lose a significant amount of weight, Frank and Jennifer say that the key to keeping it off and staying motivated is family support. At their large family gatherings, the foursome now prepare healthier food options and help to keep each other on track with portion sizes.

Weight loss surgeons say gastric banding and other procedures can be very effective for weight loss, and that family support can further boost efforts in keeping off the pounds. Last year, a study published in the Archives of Surgery, demonstrated the health benefits of families focusing on improving their health together. The study found that not only bariatric surgery patients experience improvements in their health following surgery, but family members of patients, as well. Researchers from Stanford found that one year post-surgery, obese adult family members of gastric bypass patients lost an average of 3.4 percent of their body weight.  This weight loss is comparable to what would be expected in structured diet programs. The adult family members also reported having better control over their eating habits, with less emotional eating and less alcohol consumption. Obese children of surgery patients had lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than expected based on their previous growth. Additionally, family members of all ages and BMIs reported getting more exercise than before the surgery.

The Scarfuri’s surgeon, Dr. Ren Fielding, said that losing weight as a family is a “terrific and healthy way to lose weight–the family unit is making dietary and behavior changes together.” She added, however, that “these procedures are not for everyone and should not be taken lightly. As with any surgery, there are risks involved. Having surgery is not easy at all. It takes a lot of courage to admit you have a lot of problems with your weight and to be put under general anesthesia, and it’s a lot of sacrifice to lose weight and have an adequate lifestyle,” concluded Ren Fielding.

Gastric Banding works by restricting the amount of food one can eat. An adjustable band is placed around the upper part of the stomach, creating a small pouch – about the size of a golf ball. Patients feel more full from eating a smaller amount of food, and generally feel less hungry. You can read more about the procedure here.


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