Will free Lap-band surgery fix the obesity or diabetes epidemic?
Posted by Christine Armarego AEP
Yesterday the media headlines were “Free Fat Surgery”! It related to a story about a government report which makes recommendations to the Australian Government on how to tackle the obesity crisis that costs $58 billion last year.
One of the recommendations is for gym memberships to be subsidized. Now this is certainly a step in the right direction especially with the GFC forcing people to make decisions based on money in the short term rather than the cost to their health in the long term. However for many of the clients we see in “The Glucose Club” they get greater benefit from more individualized sessions rather than simply purchasing a gym membership, as this doesn’t guarantee attendance or weight loss. Having caring, supportive and educated Allied Health professionals available who understand behavior change and are experienced in designing individualized programs, specifically if the person has injuries or a chronic health condition will make weight loss more likely. Also not every one is interested in going to a gym – what about out-door training or a pool membership? The government could also consider increasing the number of Enhanced Primary Care plan sessions available from 5 to 10 per year, allowing for more personalized care of those at greatest risk of developing morbid obesity.
They also recommend that Bariatric or Lap-banding surgery be subsidized by the government. While this type of surgery is beneficial to those who are morbidly obese and who cannot exercise, there still needs to be education on nutrition and exercise and assistance in how to change these lifestyle habits to prevent the person falling into old habits. Surgery is only half the battle and it’s surgery plus support through lifestyle changes that is successful. And bear in mind surgery has it’s own risks, including unsuccessful or procedures that need to be repeated.
I think the main problem is that the report is looking at ways to reduce weight – but have forgotten that the science shows that being fit is more important than being thin – and that is where their focus should be! Being fit improves your glucose and insulin interaction and prevents metabolic health problems such as diabetes. Feel free to leave your comments below!