Obesity must be tackled now, surgeon warns

OBESITY has reached epidemic proportions throughout the world.

That's the view of Gladstone Hospital's new surgeon Dr Stefaan De Clercq.

"The problem is even greater in Australia than it is in other parts of the world," Dr De Clercq said.

"It's now time to take measures to remedy this major problem - and our governments need to be leading the way."

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Dr De Clercq said there was a misconception that the blame should rest solely with the obese patient.

"That's not always the case," he said. "Some people are predisposed genetically to become obese - it's in their genes."

However, the major key is the balance between intake of food and expenditure of energy, "tackling the problem not with surgery alone, but taking a holistic view of the problem and changing our way of life in a multi-disciplined approach".

"Surgery should be the last resort, after other solutions have been tried - and the most important thing of all is that the patients need to be followed up on a regular basis to make sure they stay on track," he said.

Dr De Clercq said surgery, such as gastric bypass which is his specialty, was the most effective and it has the ability to remedy other ailments such as type two diabetes within weeks.

"But education is really the key - education of young people about food intake and exercise will help ensure our young people are not heading down the road of obesity," he said.

"It's an amazing statistic, but the mean weight of high-school age teenagers is growing considerably year on year - and it will continue while they continue to drink sugary soft drinks and eat fatty foods."

He said the education solution was ideally a government issue and one which would see great reductions in the cost of health services throughout the country as people became healthier.

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