Weight isn’t all about life­style

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television Free To Air - The Obe­sity Myth,

The Obe­sity Myth This three-part doc­u­men­tary se­ries fol­lows the strug­gles of mor­bidly obese pa­tients and their fam­i­lies as they go through the weight-loss pro­gram at Mel­bourne’s Austin Health.

Twenty-five per cent of Aus­tralians are con­sid­ered to be med­i­cally obese and treat­ing the as­so­ci­ated health chal­lenges of heart dis­ease, di­a­betes and stroke cost the Aus­tralian com­mu­nity $9 bil­lion a year. The obese are of­ten shunned, judged as suf­fer­ing from a con­di­tion that is self-in­flicted.

In­ter­na­tional obe­sity ex­pert Joe Proi­etto, the head of Austin Health’s Weight Con­trol Clinic, chal­lenges this pre­con­cep­tion by treat­ing obe­sity as a chronic ge­netic dis­ease rather than a life­style choice.

Med­i­cal facts aside, the se­ries paints a com­pelling pic­ture of the de­spair and grief ex­pe­ri­enced by the clinic’s pa­tients as they bat­tle a dis­ease that could kill them, and that they feel pow­er­less to con­trol. Karen, a 40-year-old wheel­chair-bound woman who tips the scales at 246kg, has been a pa­tient at the clinic for more than 12 months but is show­ing lit­tle progress.

Bub­bly 48-year-old mum-of-two Tracey has lost more than 73kg in 12 months and is tak­ing a chance and com­ing off her ap­petite sup­pres­sant med­i­ca­tion af­ter reach­ing her goal weight. Grey­hound-lov­ing Wayne was di­ag­nosed with weight-re­lated di­a­betes as a teen and is fac­ing foot am­pu­ta­tion aged 40. And so on.

The Obe­sity Myth can be viewed as ei­ther re­as­sur­ingly ther­a­peu­tic or as a cau­tion­ary tale, but the bot­tom line is the se­ries is a po­lite, mea­sured wake-up call for those who may be un­will­ing and/or afraid to ex­plore their med­i­cal op­tions with re­spect to weight and sub­se­quent health is­sues. Mon­day, 7.30pm, SBS.

tack­les so­ci­ety’s pre­con­ceived ideas about a se­ri­ous health is­sue

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