25,000 Reasons to Promote Bariatric Care

This evening, I presented my vision for the Weight Wise Program to the Capital Health Board of Directors. I set the stage by presenting recent data on the prevalence of obesity.

Extrapolating from the most recent available data, based on roughly a population of 1,000,000 in the Capital Health region, I estimated that around 500,000 or 50% of the population have overweight or obesity, around 250,000 or 25% have frank obesity and around 25,000 or 2.5% have severe or morbid obesity.

Not surprisingly, the numbers clearly shocked my listeners. While everyone was of course well aware that there was an obesity problem, it is probably fair to say that few fully appreciated how HUGE the problem really is.

My comment that at the current rate of obesity surgery in the region, it would take us several centuries to operate on everyone who is morbidly obese today, was visibly sobering.

Just to clarify, I am not a surgeon. I have nothing personally to gain from promoting obesity surgery. Indeed, I much rather wished we had medical treatments that could do the job – but I have to concede that at least for now, obesity surgery is by far the best option for eligible patients.

Believe me, if there was a way to avoid surgery, I’d be all for it. But just as I’ve had to accept that dialysis and transplantation are the best options for patients with kidney failure, I have to accept that bariatric surgery is currently the best treatment for severe obesity.

More power to anyone who can manage their massive excess weight by radically overhauling their lifestyles and sticking with it – realistically, however, I am painfully aware that this will always be a small minority – most will require medical and/or surgical help.

Denying this help is not an option – morbid obesity is NOT a rare disease!