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Check Up 13: Gas City mom experiences 'awakening' after gastric bypass surgery

Jennifer Pruss lost half her body weight in the eight months after her surgery.

GAS CITY, Ind. — Excess weight and obesity is an issue that threatens the health and life expectancy of Americans. 

The State of Obesity 2022: Better Policies for a Healthier America report found that 4 in 10 American adults are obese, and rates are climbing.

The report, based in part on 2021 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System, tracks rates of overweight and obesity by age, race, and state.  According to the report, Indiana is one of 19 states that have adult obesity rates over 35%.

Jennifer Pruss, a 45-year-old mother of two from Gas City, said as long as she can remember, she's always been bigger. Over the years, she tried diets and different exercise programs with limited success.

Credit: Jennifer Pruss

Last year, she decided to seek help from a bariatric surgeon.

"I just got to the point where I just want to do this for myself, finally," Pruss said.

Pruss opted for a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery at Ascension St. Vincent after learning about her options at a free bariatric seminar. Her surgeon, Dr. Christopher Evanson, laparoscopically rerouted her intestine to a reduced stomach pouch.

"Patients who have Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, those patients will lose closer to 70-75% of the weight that they are overweight in about nine months to a year," said Evanson. "In my view, the most important part of the procedure is the hormonal changes that happen very quickly after our procedures."

RELATED: Learn more about the bariatric seminars

And results for Pruss are right on track. She's down from a high of 313 pounds to 158 in eight months. She said it's hard to process how dramatically she's changed in such a short time.

Credit: Jennifer Pruss

"My son, in particular, is just amazed...I came home two days before his prom last year and so all the prom pictures...he looks back on them now and he's just, 'Wow, mom! There is such a difference,'" Pruss said.

And Pruss feels better, too. She has more energy for work and life.

"I feel like I'm blooming. I feel like it's an awakening. It's just living life now so differently than in the past, and every day a new opportunity presents and I'm able to do it and it's really neat to live life like that, no longer hiding feeling like a skinny person in a big body," Pruss said.

Pruss is now off her blood pressure medication and no longer has challenges finding clothes that fit. 

Credit: Jennifer Pruss

Doctors estimate less than one percent of people eligible for bariatric surgery pursue it as an option.

Evanson said people are unfamiliar with the risks and insurance coverage. Generally, patients should have a BMI (body mass index) of 35 or higher to be considered a candidate, and an overall health history is a factor, too. To learn more about weight loss support, counseling, diet, exercise, and an overview of surgical options, you may register for a free bariatric seminar.  

For Check Up 13, there is a virtual option, as well.  

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