18 January 2011
Last month an influential health study from the Association of Public Health Observatories declared that the UK has the highest level of obesity in Europe – just what you want to hear before tucking into Christmas dinner!
In all seriousness this is of huge concern for all of us because the associated illnesses that come with obesity can be at best horribly debilitating and at worst life-threatening, including:
- major organ disease, like heart, liver and gall bladder
- some cancers
- breathing problems
The list goes on.
Thankfully, though, there are treatments out there designed to help people get to a healthy weight, but the big question is will they work for YOU?
I put that question to Justin Morgan, one of our consultants here at Spire Bristol Hospital and one of the UK’s leading authorities on weight loss treatments and procedures.
Here’s his response:
"There are nationally accepted guidelines for weight loss surgery which are recommended by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence).
"The patient needs to work out their body mass index, which is the body weight in kilograms divided by their height in meters squared. This sounds complicated but can be done easily online, several websites will do it for you from your height and weight in feet and inches and stones and pounds. A normal body mass index is between 20 and 25. Up to 30 would be overweight, 30-35 would be classified as obese. NICE recommends weight loss surgery for a body mass index above 35, if the patient has weight-related health problems and above 40 if there are no medical weight related problems.
"The sorts of weight related problems which might occur would be hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, intracranial hypertension, joint problems and depression. Other illnesses might also qualify.
"Patients undergoing weight loss surgery who already have weight related health problems undergo the operation to improve or resolve their symptoms. Most conditions will respond very favourably to weight loss. Some patients may experience complete resolution of their illnesses such as being able to stop blood pressure medication, or take less diabetic medication, and take fewer painkillers for joint pains for example.
"Weight loss surgery however, contributes to the improvement of many other problems on a more personal level, such as being able to shop in any clothes store, being able to use public transport and being able to enjoy normal social activities.
"For a patient with a BMI under 35 who would not qualify for weight loss surgery a new technique of gastric balloon insertion is now becoming available. A fluid-filled balloon about the size of a grapefruit is inflated in the stomach by an endoscopy under local anesthetic with intravenous sedation. The balloon fills up the stomach and helps lessen hunger and aids weight loss. It can stay in for up to six months and is then removed, again by endoscopy. This is obviously quite a short term solution and suitable for patients to lose 2-3 stones. The patient requires a lot of support as they may experience difficult symptoms of nausea and vomiting, especially in the early days after the balloon is fitted."