Walk raises funds and awareness of 'neglected' obesity

or the Mirror

Doctors in Federal Way understand especially well the importance of a fund-raising walk this month in support of research and treatment of obesity.

“Walk from Obesity,” scheduled for Sept. 20 at Wilson High School in Tacoma, is part of a national initiative by the American Society of Bariatric Surgeons ( to raise awareness of the public, healthcare professionals and government officials about the dangers of obesity and the need for federal funding of treatment programs.

“The disease of obesity is the most neglected public health crisis in the United States,” said Dr. Myur Srikanth of Tacoma, a leading weight-loss surgeon in the Puget Sound area.

Obesity is the second-leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., behind heart disease, yet it is often a primary cause of heart disease and most other major health conditions. It affects more than 97 million Americans and is directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of 1,000 people in the U.S. daily.

Franciscan Health System is a sponsor of the walk. One of its hospitals, St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way, performs about 90 percent of all the weight-loss surgeries done at Franciscan’s three hospitals.

A spokeswoman said Franciscan performed 400 surgeries last year and expects to do more than 600 this year.

Surgical intervention is the only proven, long-term treatment for obesity, according to officials.

Candidates for surgery are 100 pounds or more overweight with accompanying health concerns, such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and hypertension.

More women undergo the surgery simply because they seek out healthcare more than men do, officials said. Children under 18 usually must be severely obese and have related health conditions for a surgeon to consider them a candidate, as it’s uncertain whether the surgery inhibits children’s growth. The risk of having surgery is weighed against the risk of remaining obese and ill.

Franciscan offers free monthly seminars for people considering surgery. The schedule and support groups are listed at

“The attention that obesity receives from the federal government mainly addresses prevention,” Srikanth added. “While prevention is necessary, what’s lacking are federal programs to support effective treatment.”

Walk on

The entry fee for “Walk from Obesity” Sept. 20 at Wilson High School in Tacoma is $15 per person. Participants will receive an official T-shirt.

The event is open to everyone. Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m., with the walk schedued to start at 10:30. Wilson High is at 1202 N. Orchard St.

More information on obesity and the walk is available at (253) 472-9857,, and

Proceeds from the walk will support obesity education and research by the American Society of Bariatric Surgeons Foundation.

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