Weight Loss Surgery Patient in Florida Works to Fight Obesity

September 25, 2010 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
(Washington, DC-September 25, 2010) Fighting America's obesity epidemic is something Chaz Merkel takes personally. Not only is he a patient concierge at Sun Coast Bariatrics, a weight loss surgery clinic in Florida, but he has also undergone LAP-BAND® obesity surgery himself. Therefore, it was only fitting that he would join eleven other LAP-BAND® patients to deliver a petition regarding how obesity can be treated to Congress. As part of this group, selected in Allergan's "Voice My C.H.O.I.C.E." contest, Merkel has been able to take yet another step in advocating healthier lives for Americans.

The "Voice My C.H.O.I.C.E." contest allowed LAP-BAND® patients to submit video testimonials of how their lives have been changed by bariatric surgery. The winners went on to represent Allergan's C.H.O.I.C.E. initiative at the U.S. Capitol on Patient Advocacy Day (C.H.O.I.C.E. stands for Choosing Health over Obesity, Inspiring Change through Empowerment). The C.H.O.I.C.E. initiative's petition seeks to encourage Congress to approach obesity-the second leading cause of preventable death in the country-like any other disease when creating policies addressing the epidemic.

There is little doubt as to why Merkel's video was among the submissions chosen in the contest. In it he explains how his life was prior to receiving the LAP-BAND®: "I was forced to secretly go weight myself on a freight cargo scale… [It was] pretty humiliating." At 435 pounds, a normal bathroom scale would not support his weight, and he suffered with a long list of health problems including angina, back pain, sleep apnea, chronic fatigue and depression. He feared that his health would soon render him unable to care for his elderly mother.

He goes on, however, to describe how his life has drastically improved since having gastric banding surgery in December 2003. After years of struggling with his weight, he has been able to lose 215 pounds and maintain that weight loss for the last seven years. He is happier, more energetic and no longer has to take any medications. He has even been able to return to singing and entertaining, activities which he was forced to quit years earlier due to his health.

Now working at Sun Coast Bariatrics in St. Petersburg, Merkel helps people with stories similar to his own understand how bariatric surgery could be their ideal weight loss treatment. Through educational seminars, support groups and efforts such as C.H.O.I.C.E., Merkel continues to bring attention to the obesity crisis and the treatment that so many desperately need. "We need to do something about this now, not years from now," he says, "because if we wait, it will be too late."

Press Contact:
Kristina Williamson
Sun Coast Bariatrics
900 Carillon Parkway Suite 401
St. Petersburg, Fl 33716
(727) 289-7137