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Brother Doctors Attack Obesity Through Surgery

Craig and Neil Floch were destined to be doctors from the day they were born. Their father, Martin, was the longtime chief of medicine at Norwalk Hospital, and the brothers knew they would follow in his medical footsteps. "Pretty much from the time I was 12," says Craig. Adds Neil, "I loved the way my dad was able to help people."

Now, both brothers are helping people in their roles as bariatric surgeons at Norwalk Hospital and through their practice, Fairfield County Bariatrics . Craig started the practice in 1994, and Neil joined four years later. They have been nationally recognized as a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence since 2006.

There's no question that many people could benefit from their skills, as America's obesity crisis continues to escalate. "We could help 70 percent more people if insurance coverage wasexpanded to include more obese individuals," says Craig. "Instead of paying for a lifetime of treatment for diabetes and other problems created by obesity, the cost of surgery could be recouped in three years." And there's no question that the problem is growing nationally. A map on the practice's website shows the percentage of the population in each state that is obese, which is defined as having a Body Mass Index greater than 30. The "obesity belt," as Neil calls it, is spreading like a red tide from the Deep South.

Both doctors are quick to say that surgery isn't a magic bullet or cure-all for obesity. "It's just a tool, part of an overall approach to weight management that includes dietary modification and behavioral change," says Neil. A combination approach yields a success rate of more than 80 percent, far better than dieting alone. In fact, the British government has approved bariatric surgery as a treatment for obesity, a move the United Stages should emulate, the brother doctors say. "We need to empower our patients," they say.

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