Being overweight is something which can affect not only your health, but also your happiness. At the Specialist Medical Clinic, we understand that losing weight is not that easy. To help, we offer a multidisciplinary approach to weight loss including diet and lifestyle advice and surgical options, supporting you every step of the way along the road to your target weight.
Our Western world of stressful jobs, limited time and unhealthy eating has led to over 60% of the American and UK population, and more than 50% of the Western European population, being clinically overweight or obese. Obesity is deemed, after smoking, as the leading cause of preventable death.
With many medical advances, and easy access to medical advice, effective treatment of obesity is not only easy but has a greater health benefit to the population of the world than any other treatment available.
Statistics show that 25% of the UK adult population are estimated to be severely overweight (have a Body Mass Index or BMI >30). The World Health Organisation classifies anyone with a BMI greater than 25 as overweight and anyone with a BMI greater than 30 as obese.
The Gibraltar Public Health and Lifestyle Report has recently revealed that 60% of the population are overweight or obese, with three quarters of men aged 45 and over being overweight. It was also noted that 75% of the population do not eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables each day.
What are the risks of being obese?
People who are deemed clinically obese are much more at risk of developing comorbid diseases which worsen with increased BMI, and often improve dramatically with weight loss and lifestyle changes.
Conditions such as impaired glucose tolerance which leads to type II diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiac problems and cancer are more commonly associated with clinically obese people. In women, issues with fertility and pregnancy complications are a risk and in both men and women, impaired mobility and arthritis are a common problem. Along with the physical effects, psychological health can also be dramatically affected, with depression, low self-esteem and reduced self-confidence being common.
Diet and Lifestyle changes
An excellent starting point for anyone wishing to lose weight, is to begin with a diet and lifestyle assessment. Implementing a few small changes in these areas can set patients on the road to a healthy target weight.
For those with a BMI of 25-35, lifestyle changes can assist with weight loss of around 10kg. Changes may include altering eating habits, exercise programmes, some pharmacological agents and behaviour modification.
Pharmacological agents should only be taken with the advice and guidance of a qualified professional.
For some patients, if changing diet and lifestyle does not give the desired weight loss, it may be necessary to proceed with surgical intervention.
Medically termed as bariatric surgery, its aim is to assist patients who are deemed clinically obese and require, for health and lifestyle reasons, to reduce their weight.
In people with a BMI of 30-35, an intragastric balloon inserted into the stomach is a viable option. It reduces the functional size of the stomach and therefore calorie intake.
If the patient has a BMI of greater than 35, surgery has become the gold standard of treatment in recent years. There are 2 main surgical options and the patient’s suitability for this will be decided on an individual basis.
This is a restrictive surgery in which an adjustable band is placed around the top part of the stomach. This then creates a pocket, when the patient eats, this pocket fills up quickly and the food passes slowly into the stomach. The patient then feels full after a shorter time with less food.
A gastric bypass operation involves the surgeon creating a small stomach pouch with a bypass of much of the small intestine, making the digestive system shorter, without actually removing anything. This effectively means that the patient can only eat smaller meals and the body digests less food.