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A Disease | Causes | Consequences | BMI | Treatment | Useful Links

Obesity: A Disease

Obesity is emerging as a health epidemic around the world. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity is rapidly spreading across all regions and demographic groups. In Australia 59% of the population are overweight with around 10 % being morbidly obese . This represents 2 million Australians exposed to a life threatening condition.
Obesity is an excess of total body fat, which results from calorie intake that exceeds energy usage. A measurement used to assess health risks of obesity is Body Mass Index (BMI).
Click here to find out more about Body Mass Index BMI.
Obese individuals have a 50-100% increased risk of death from all causes as compared to normal weight individuals. Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in Australia.

Causes of Obesity

Obesity could be a combination of the following:

  • The genes you inherited from your parents
  • How well your body turns food into energy
  • Your eating and exercising habits
  • Your surroundings
  • Psychological factors

Consequences of Obesity

  • If you are obese, severely obese, or morbidly obese, you may have:

Major health risks

  • Shorter Life Expectancy
  • Compared to people of normal weight, obese people have a 50% to 100% increased risk of dying prematurely
  • Obese people have more risk for:
    • Diabetes (type 2)
    • Joint problems (e.g., arthritis)
    • High blood pressure
    • Heart disease
    • Gallbladder problems
    • Certain types of cancer (breast, uterine, colon)
    • Digestive disorders (e.g., gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GORD)
    • Breathing difficulties (e.g., sleep apnoea, asthma)
    • Psychological problems such as depression
    • Problems with fertility and pregnancy
    • Urinary Incontinence

Risks to psychological and social well-being

  • Negative self-image
  • Social isolation
  • Discrimination

Difficulties with day-to-day living

  • Normal tasks become harder when you are obese, as movement is more difficult
  • You tend to tire more quickly and you find yourself short of breath
  • Public transport seats, telephone booths, and cars may be too small for you
  • You may find it difficult to maintain personal hygiene

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Body Mass Index (BMI) is measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to both adult men and women. BMI does not differentiate between body fat and muscle mass. Therefore, body builders and people who have a lot of muscle bulk will have a high BMI but are not overweight or obese.
BMI Classifications:

Classification BMI
Underweight <19
Ideal BMI 19-25
Overweight 25-30
Obese >30
Severely Obese >35
Morbidly Obese >40
Super Obese >50

Fat predominantly distributed around the waist is also a risk factor for health complications such as cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes. Fat predominantly deposited around the hips and buttocks doesn’t have this same risk. BMI Calculator –Work out your BMI here on our home page

Treatment Options

Non-Surgical Treatment
Dieting, exercise, and medication have long been regarded as the conventional methods to achieve weight loss. Sometimes, these efforts are successful in the short term. However, for people who are morbidly obese, the results rarely last. For many, this can translate into what’s called the “yo-yo syndrome,” where patients continually gain and lose weight with the possibility of serious psychological and health consequences. Recent research reveals that conventional methods of weight loss generally fail to produce permanent weight loss. Several studies have shown that patients on diets, exercise programs, or medication are able to lose approximately 10% of their body weight but tend to regain two-thirds of it within one year, and almost all of it within five years**. Another study found that less than 5% of patients in weight loss programs were able to maintain their reduced weight after five years*.
Surgical Treatment
Over the last 10 years obesity surgery has evolved rapidly and has proven to be both safe and effective. Recent data from a long term study in Sweden* has shown that obesity surgery has been very effective in resolving co-morbidities such as Type 2 diabetes and that there has been a survival benefit for people who have undergone surgery, as opposed to those that were managed with diet and exercise regimes.
We offer patients, aged 18 to 75 , four types of surgery, the laparoscopic band procedure, the tube ( sleeve) gastrectomy, the gastric bypass and intragastric balloon / orbera system. The surgery chosen depends on each individual’s circumstances.

  • Effects of bariatric surgery on mortality in swedish obese subjects, New England Journal of Medicine 2007, 357: 741-52

Surgical Treatment options

Sleeve Gastrectomy
Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band Surgery
Gastric Bypass
Intragastric Balloon / Orbera System

** American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) / American College of Endocrinology. (ACE) Statement on the Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Obesity (1998 Revision). AACE/ACE Obesity Task Force. Endocr Pract. 1998; Vol. 4 No. 5: 297-330.
* Kramer FM et al. Long-term follow-up of behavioral treatment for obesity: patterns of weight regain among men and women. Int J Obes 1989; 13:123-136.
# SAGES/ASBS Guidelines for Laparoscopic and Conventional Surgical Treatment of Morbid Obesity. American Society for Bariatric Surgery.

Useful Links

For more information on obesity, surgical options and the Gastric Band, please refer to the following links: