What is the Second Most Preventable Cause of Premature Death Next to Cigarette Smoking?
The answer – obesity. Whether the blame is placed on our sedentary lifestyles or the quantity and types of food that we eat, there is no doubt that obesity is a rising health epidemic in many countries including Singapore.
The way to maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) is simple –a balanced diet and regular exercise. While it sounds simple enough, it is a challenging task for many people who do not find time to exercise regularly, eat healthy meals or in moderation. For some, this is a constant struggle. When they let up, they lose the battle of the bulge and their BMIs creep up to greater than 27.5 in the obese range, and some, to greater than 32.5 in the severely obese range.
“Obesity is associated with more than 30 medical conditions such as heart diseases, joint problems and high blood pressure. Preliminary data shows that weight loss of about 10 per cent of body weight, for persons with overweight or obesity, can improve some obesity-related medical conditions,” shared Dr HG Baladas, Specialist in General Surgery, Raffles Surgery Centre.
He added: “For people in the obese category, who have tried but failed to lose weight, bariatric (‘baria’ for weight and ‘tric’ for treatment) solutions like intra-gastric balloon or lapband surgery are available.”
Control with a Band
Lapband is a safe procedure that can help the severely obese lose weight effectively. It is like a diet permanently enforced by a surgically restricted stomach. Lapband is a laparoscopic operation in which a hollow silicon band is clipped around the upper part of the stomach. The band is removable, adjustable and does not permanently alter the anatomy. More significantly, it is one of the least invasive obesity operations because neither the stomach nor the intestine is cut. It is also a long-term weight loss option with over 90 per cent effectiveness.
Dr Baladas advised: “To qualify, you must be aged between 18 and 65, have a BMI above 32.”
“My patients have lost from 20kg to 70kg gradually after the lapband surgery. I think that the most amazing thing about it is its ability to change lives,” he shared. He recalled the case of a patient who went through lapband in her late 20s. At the time, she weighed 113kg. She was introverted, shy and inactive. Almost a year after the surgery, she weighed about 70kg and started to pick up jogging.
Dr Baladas added: “Her weight continued to decrease and she even took part in a triathlon. Today, she has maintained a consistent weight of below 60kg, and trains to compete in triathlons regularly. What a life transformation it has been for her!”