The World Heart Federation (WHF) reports that cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the world, causing 17.3 million deaths globally. Today (29 September) marks World Heart Day, the event aimed at raising awareness of all aspects of heart health, associated medical conditions and the impact on UK funding.
Recent recommendations on the obesity crisis call for banning trans fats in Britain, claiming it could save up to 7,200 lives over the next five years,. Commenting on the concern of obesity in younger people and the limitations of intensive lifestyle programmes, in conversation with Asian Lite, Mr Marcus Reddy, Consultant Bariatric Surgeon at The Lister Hospital, London an expert in obesity-related surgery, sheds light on the topic from a medical perspective.
Do you think you have seen an increase in the number of overweight/ obese patients in recent years?
“Year on year we see more patients not only coming forward for bariatric surgery but also obese patients with general medical and surgical problems. They can only have treatment by a surgeon who is experienced in operating on the obese due to the technical challenges – for examples having a very large abdomen. “
Are you seeing more younger people with weight problems?
“We are seeing more younger people with weight problems and we have specialist multidisciplinary teams to manage this younger age group of obese patients. Child psychologist and child endocrinologists are needed with this.”
Do you think the NHS should be spending more money on bariatric surgery, or on intensive lifestyle intervention programmes in its aim to cut rates of obesity?
“Intensive lifestyle programmes have not been able to show sustained weight-loss nor sustained resolution of obesity related conditions. Once morbid obesity is established in a patient it is rare that non- surgical techniques are successful. Those who are already obese will only see a significant long term benefit from bariatric surgery.”
Does bariatric surgery work?
“Bariatric surgery works – we now have strong scientific data from studies, such as the Swedish Obese Subjects trial. This shows that over a twenty-year period the weight and the medical problems associated with obesity, such as diabetes, are all much better managed after bariatric surgery, compared to not having surgery. In some patients this is even fully improved. Patients also live longer if they undergo bariatric surgery.”
Do lifestyle intervention programmes work?
“There has been consistent difficulty demonstrating long term success in diet and exercise in patients with morbid obesity.”
Bangladesh, Japan and Norway were among those ranked with the best obesity rates and the most outdoors-focused lifestyles – do you think there is anything we could take from these countries, with regards to their diet, lifestyle and cultural choices, that we could learn from to reduce our obesity rates?
“There is no doubt that burning more calories by exercise and reducing intake of high calorie dense foods will achieve weight if this is a long term lifestyle. The cost of food and transportation is generally more expensive in Japan and may play a factor, as does the cultural eating habits. However we have also seen a rise in obesity rates in countries such as Japan as western lifestyles become more common.”