(NEW YORK) — For the Scafuri family, weight loss has been an experience in family “banding.”
Dr. Frank Scafuri, a primary care physician in Staten Island, N.Y., has been obese since childhood. Two years ago, the 5-foot, 10-inch 39-year-old weighed 360 pounds. He also had high blood pressure and diabetes.
“I couldn’t live like that anymore,” he said. “My ankles were hurting, plus, how am I going to tell my patients to lose weight when I have a weight issue?”
But he’s not the only one in the family who struggled with weight. His younger sister, Jennifer, said she was also an obese child.
“In the sixth grade, I weighed 180 pounds,” said Jennifer, a nurse practitioner at NYU Langone Medical Center. Her weight peaked at around 300.
After years of yo-yo dieting, Frank finally got fed up with losing weight, only to gain it all back and then some. He decided to have gastric banding surgery.
He had the surgery in July 2010 and has already dropped 135 pounds. After seeing his success, Jennifer decided to have the same procedure — followed by their younger brother and Frank’s wife. Their mother will soon follow and have the surgery later this year.
Jennifer has lost 70 pounds so far, and said she hopes to lose another 30. Like her brother Frank, she did lose quite a bit of weight in the past — 100 pounds in her early 20s — but was unable to keep it off.
“I must have lost and gained about 10 people in my lifetime,” she said.
The procedure helped the four family members lose quite a bit of weight, but Frank and Jennifer say the key to keeping it off and staying motivated is family support.
“We come from a big Italian family,” Jennifer said. “My mother likes to feed us. We go to her house and there are maybe 10 of us, but she’ll cook for 25. Now, there are four of us asking her to not make as much food, or to cook healthy foods.”
Bariatric surgeons say gastric banding and other procedures are very effective for weight loss, and the family support can bolster efforts and keeping off the pounds. But they also warn that these procedures are not for everyone and should not be taken lightly. As with any surgery, there are risks involved.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Sean Stoker, KSL.com
Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent