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Obesity epidemic lacks funding



… but current funding levels aren’t nearly enough to help them, said Arya Sharma, scientific director for the Canadian Obesity Network. …

Governments Must Fight Obesity With Major Investment into Treatment: Experts

Posted on: Thursday, 16 August 2007, 15:23 CDT

HAMILTON (CP) – Governments should consider obesity an epidemic and must address it with massive investments into treatment, experts said as they called for more funding in addition to the almost $700,000 announced by Ontario on Thursday.

About half a million morbidly obese people across the country need treatment, but current funding levels aren’t nearly enough to help them, said Arya Sharma, scientific director for the Canadian Obesity Network.

The country’s health facilities also need a major overhaul to accommodate the growing number of obese patients since doorways, corridors and washrooms must be wide enough to accommodate special stretchers, wheelchairs and other equipment, he said.

“It starts from seating and simple things like having a blood-pressure cuff of the right dimension, a scale that will weigh over 500 pounds, and it comes down to architectural structure of the actual buildings,” Sharma said.

The new funding will be used to upgrade the bariatric clinic at Hamilton Health Sciences so an additional 500 people each year can be treated on an outpatient basis.

The clinic currently helps about 200 people a year with diagnosis, counselling, surgery referral and pre-and post-operative care.

Health Minister George Smitherman said the funding will help reduce wait lists and the need to get treatment outside the province, and is just the start of what will ultimately be huge investments into bariatric care.

“In the next several years in Ontario, I would anticipate that these services will grow by something like six, eight or tenfold,” he said.

“We’re at the beginning of a very, very dramatic expansion of services for obese individuals.”

Seven hospitals across Ontario perform a total of about 400 bariatric surgeries a year.

Hamilton Health Sciences president Murray Martin said the new funding is important because it’s expected that the need to treat obesity will eventually exceed the need to treat smoking-related illnesses.

Source: Canadian Press

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