The FDA is considering expanding the use of the surgically implanted Lap-Band device to people with BMI ratings as low as 30 if they also have a related health problem. Without a health problem the person’s BMI would have to be at least 35. At the moment a BMI rating of even 39.3 is not enough to allow implantation to take place.
Experts emphasize that the insertion of Lap-Band is not magic, and for the procedure to be useful it must be accompanied by changes in highly ingrained eating behaviors. The cost of the procedure might also prevent many potential recipients of the treatment from obtaining the implant.
Over 30% of all Americans are considered to be obese. Approximately 15 million of them are eligible for gastric banding surgery according to the present criteria. Today’s criteria are having a BMI of 40 or more, or a BMI of 35 with an accompanying related health condition.
If the standards were lowered to include patients with 35 BMI or 30 with a health condition, the number of eligible patients would rise to about 27 million Americans, according to health data supplied by the federal government.