Paul Listro, director of public safety at Westfarms mall, says he recognized the health consequences of steadily gaining weight until he  finally reached 325 pounds.

“If I walked up the stairs,” he says, “I was huffing and puffing. I had high blood pressure. I used a CPAP machine (for sleep apnea). I was concerned about diabetes.”

Listro says all his previous successes in losing weight ended the same way: He regained the weight. A new study using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that about 35 percent of men (and 40 percent of women) in the United States were obese in 2013-14. (Anyone  with a body mass index from 30 to 39.9 is considered obese. A BMI 40 or higher is classified as extreme obesity.) Risks include high blood pressure (hypertension), Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis and some types of cancer.

“You’re not going to make it to 65 the way you are going,” Listro says he told himself. “Going to drop dead of a heart attack.”

Listro says after attending a Hartford HealthCare wellness seminar at Westfarms on weight-loss surgery, he choose to have a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, a restrictive weight-loss procedure that limits the amount of food you can eat. Listro says the process, which includes visits with nutritionists, has chanced his life. He says he now wears pants with size 40 waist, down from 48 and no longer takes medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

“And I no longer snore,” he says. “My wife is amazed. I walk up the stairs — no more huffing and puffing. I’m not as worried about diabetes. I play tens with my son now . . . and I ran 5.5 miles this morning. I would have died a year ago!”

For more information on both medical and surgical weight loss options, visit the