It is a frightening figure that by 2025, more than 80 per cent of Australia’s population is expected to be overweight or obese.
The statistic is further fuelling the diabetes crisis, but bariatric surgery is giving patients new lease on life.
July 8-14 is National Diabetes Week.
The World Health Organisation states that bariatric surgery should now be one of the standard treatments for morbidly obese people with diabetes.
St George Private Hospital, which is the highest volume bariatric hospital in Australia, has been recognised for its surgical standards in bariatric surgery by the Surgical Review Corporation, which accredits Centres of Excellence in the world.
More than 29,000 patients had bariatric surgery in Australia last year.
Unlike the older style bariatric procedures such as gastric band, the procedure means patients are no longer heavily reliant on medication to manage their condition.
Surgeon and head of the department at St George Private Hospital, John Jorgensen, says the procedure is becoming more common.
“Many people perceive bariatric surgery as a cosmetic type procedure but really it is not about getting thinner, it’s about saving lives because without it obese people have a fourfold increased risk of premature death,” he said.
“In one instance I operated on five people in the same family.
“The surgery isn’t just physical, it changes hormones and the body’s hunger drivers. That’s why these surgeries are called metabolic surgeries.
“The vast majority of people come to hospital with diabetes and either leave hospital without it, resolve it in a few weeks or months, or at the very least significantly reduce diabetes medications.”
Siblings, Bexley’s Charmain and South Hurstville’s George Etnasios, had the procedure at St George Private.
They say it has been life-changing. Both weighed more than 100 kilograms, and now weigh about 65 and 76 kilograms.
Ms Etnasios had diabetes, sciatica and arthritis before the surgery. She also had spinal issues after being injured in the Waterfall train accident in 2003. She said the surgery completely resolved her diabetes and arthritis, resulted in less flare ups of sciatica.
“It’s in the genes. We watched dad go into renal failure from long-term diabetes medications, which now require dialysis,” she said.
“Dad also has hypertension, vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease, and previously had cancer.
“We have lived through all this with him and I didn’t want the same for my brother or myself.
“Mum has Lupus, chronic kidney disease, Sjogrens syndrome, arthritis and osteoporosis. Many of these conditions are linked to diabetes and weight. We wanted to eliminate as much of the risk as we could.”
The hospital is hosting a free diabetes and surgery seminar at 10am on July 21.
Details: 9553 7288