Surgery the final choice for weight loss
MR John Conneely is a consultant surgeon at Mater Private Hospital, Dublin, and has a specialist interest in the management of weight loss and minimally invasive bariatric surgery:
“In Ireland today, one in 20 adults have an obesity-related disease such as diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnoea and fertility problems. We are quickly becoming the most obese country in Europe. Worldwide it is estimated that as many as 700m people are obese.
“A healthy weight is one that is right for your body shape and height and is based on your body mass index (BMI) and your waist circumference. There are lots of calculators available to check your BMI which involves measuring your height and weight to calculate your body’s surface area. You can check these online or next time you visit the family doctor ask the nurse to calculate it for you. In conjunction with your BMI, also measure your waist circumference.
“Measuring your waist can help you find out how much fat you store around your stomach. People who store fat around their stomach are more likely to develop weight-related health conditions.
“Weight management is a lifelong programme that starts in childhood with creating a normal attitude to diet and exercise. Regular physical activity burns calories and builds muscle, both of which help you look and feel good and keep weight off. Walking the family dog, cycling to school, and doing other things that increase your daily level of activity can all make a difference. If you want to burn more calories, increase the intensity of your workout and add some strength exercises to build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even when you aren’t exercising.
“An unintended side effect of modern technological progress is that we tend to spend a lot of time in front of screens. Set reasonable limits for your children on the amount of time they spend watching TV, and using computers and tablets. When planning meals avoid big portions and sugary drinks, which are empty calories that contribute to obesity. Eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
“Fruits and vegetables are about more than just vitamins and minerals they also contain fibre, which means you will feel full. Don’t skip breakfast. Breakfast kick starts your metabolism, burning calories from start of the day and giving you the energy to do more. People who skip breakfast tend to eat more later on. In fact, people who skip breakfast tend to have higher BMIs.
“For some, traditional weight management strategies fail and other avenues need to be explored such as surgery. In this case, a lot of discussion is required. The first step is to discuss this with your doctor and if you meet the criteria it is okay to get a referral to a specialist surgeon and discuss your options. Many of the patients we will see have been dieting for most of their lives without success and are at a stage where weight loss surgery is considered the best option for them.
“Weight loss surgery services in Ireland are underdeveloped. The bariatric surgery programme at The Mater Private is a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary service spanning 18 months. A personalised multi-disciplinary team works with pot he tential patients for a minimum of 6 months before surgery, and up to 18 months post-surgery to ensure their weight-loss journey is a success. Bariatric teams succeed by helping obese patients who have struggled for years to realise their goal of a healthy weight.
“Surgery is of course not the first option in managing weight loss and anyone who is concerned about their weight and the impact it may have on their general health should discuss that with their family doctor. Your doctors’ ultimate goal is to prevent ill-health through education in lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise however they understand surgical options are available to adults who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 45 or more, or who have a BMI between 40 and 45 with other significant diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia or sleep apnoea.”
Working out: Weight management is a lifelong programme according to John Conneely, of the Mater Hospital.