When you hear the words ‘bariatric surgery’, you immediately think weight loss. Although procedures such as gastric banding, gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and the gastric balloon are life-changing for those who want to lose weight, there are also greater health benefits associated with weight loss surgery altogether.
Obesity in Australia
In today’s society, the convenience of readily available fast food, the portion sizes we eat and our fast-paced, time poor lifestyle, can have a direct bearing on our overall wellbeing. This not only increases our expanding waistlines, but also poses significant risk of disease and other chronic, more life-threatening conditions. In 2017–18, a staggering 2 in 3 (67%) Australians aged 18 and over were overweight or obese (36% were overweight but not obese, and 31% were obese). That’s around 12.5 million adults in Australia alone. Obesity does not discriminate. It has a wide-reaching effect on all elements of our society – from young, to old – male and female.
Furthermore, studies have also shown that men have higher rates of being overweight and obese than women (75% of men and 60% of women), with higher rates of obesity (33% of men and 30% of women). It’s therefore little wonder that more and more people – men and women – are taking control of their health and turning to weight loss surgery as a weight management tool, in a bid to not only shed weight, but to reduce the risk of disease and essentially reverse chronic health conditions altogether.
Can Bariatric Surgery Reduce the Risk of Disease?
In 2018, 8.4% of the total burden of disease in Australia was due to overweight and obesity, with both being the leading risk factors when it comes to living with disease; and essentially dying from a chronic illness associated with being overweight. The likelihood of developing chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, back and joint problems, chronic kidney disease, dementia, diabetes, sleep apnoea and some cancers, is higher when a person is carrying an excessive amount of weight.
Weight Loss Surgery and Type 2 Diabetes
When it comes to type 2 diabetes – one of the most common diseases associated with being overweight – lifestyle interventions that achieve sustained weight loss can prevent or even delay its onset. Several studies have shown that weight loss through bariatric surgery can significantly reduce the progression of type 2 diabetes in obese people who are already pre-diabetic.
When to Consider Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric surgery is usually offered to people who are very obese, those with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or over. It is however also available for people with a BMI of 35 or over, who suffer from serious health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. When diet, exercise and other alternatives such as weight loss medication alone aren’t working no matter how much time and effort you put in, bariatric surgery is one of the weight loss procedures you could consider.
Weight Loss Procedures – Which is the Best for Me?
When it comes to weight loss procedures, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Many factors are taken into consideration to determine which type of surgery is the best for you, and these will include how much weight needs to be lost and any pre-existing illnesses or health issues you may have. A detailed assessment will be done at your first consultation, where the best options available to you will be discussed.
That said, is it a cure? No. Bariatric surgery is merely a weight loss tool, and when combined with good nutrition and gut health, bariatric surgery can be life changing in more ways than one. But more importantly, it can play an integral part in helping you take back control and live a happier, healthier and prolonged life.