Bariatric surgery, lifestyle changes shape Jared’s path to better health

Jared Cunningham had given up on trying to win his struggle with weight gain. His weight seemed to control his life. Multiple failed attempts to lose it had only made things worse.

“I was afraid to fail,” says the 30-year-old from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “I dieted and exercised, but I never lost weight. Why keep going if it never happens?

An annual checkup forced him to face his greatest fears: His weight had reached 377 pounds, something that caught him off-guard.

His doctor warned him about the health hazards of being obese—increased risks for cancer, heart attack, and diabetes, as well as a potentially shorter life span—and his thoughts turned to his family.

“I had to change my life,” he says. “I had to force myself to take control.”

Jared made an appointment at the Bariatric Surgery Clinic at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics.

“They’ve been doing this surgery for a number of years,” Jared says. “I found a great doctor, and he really helped me throughout my entire situation.”

That doctor was bariatric surgeon Peter Nau, MD.

“He’s been very enthusiastic about his life change. He knew what he had to do and did it,” Nau says. “He not only lost the weight—he lost equal to the weight of an adult human—but he’s kept it off through lifestyle changes and exercise.”

Jared had his surgery in 2015 and has since gotten serious about fitness. His weight is down to 212.

“I won a 5K race and ran a half marathon six months after surgery,” he says.

Nau wishes more men would look seriously at bariatric surgery, but he says they don’t feel the pressure women face when it comes to losing weight.

“It’s certainly easier for a man to be obese, because it’s more socially acceptable,” Nau says. “Men aren’t held to that body image standard that women face.”

He encourages more men to follow Jared’s lead and take control of their health.

“Just because obesity in men is a social norm doesn’t mean it’s healthy,” he says. “Obesity isn’t a vanity issue, it’s a health issue.”

Jared knows that, and is grateful he found Nau and the Bariatric Surgery Clinic to help him turn things around.

“This whole operation was a way for me to completely take control of my life and become the person I really wanted to be,” he says. “There are tough times, but you are given the tools to overcome all of those obstacles. It will take you places you never thought you would go.”