More Albertans undergoing weight loss surgery
Published Thursday, August 9, 2012 5:40PM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 9, 2012 7:16PM MDT
More Albertans than ever are choosing to undergo weight loss surgery.
A researcher at the University of Alberta says that in order to address the obesity epidemic, the goal is to eventually offer bariatric surgery to thousands.
As many as one million people are overweight in Alberta. About 100,000 people have severe obesity, meaning they’re at least 100 lbs overweight and qualify for weight loss surgery.
Alberta Health Services has invested millions to address obesity. Last year, 460 Albertans underwent the procedure. This year, new money will mean the number of bariatric surgeries will grow 500.
Dr. Daniel Birch with the University of Alberta says while that’s a start, it’s not enough.
“We’d like to see the number of bariatric surgeries happening in Alberta to be in the thousands so in the range of 2,000 or 3,000 procedures a year,” Birch said.
“I think across a number of centres would be completely appropriate.”
Birch recently published a study looking at the different treatment programs being offered for those with obesity.
He found that out of about 1,200 people, those who chose a medical weight loss program using nurses and mental health and nutritional counselling had a 43 per cent dropout rate compared to just a 10 per cent dropout rate for those who went through bariatric surgery.
Birch says with modern technology, the procedure is less invasive and therefore more effective.
Sid Fontoura took part in the Weight Wise clinic and underwent bariatric surgery a year ago.
“It took me two years to get to surgery and a year of that was just counseling,” Fontoura said.
“By about the fourth session I started to really understand it and after surgery I really appreciated what had just happened to me because I had really good ground work of how the surgery would work.”
Fontoura says bariatric surgery and the weight loss counselling he received has changed his life.
“I don’t sweat when I eat, I’m not nervous when I book an airplane seat.” Fontoura said.
“I notice that when I go to a restaurant I order what I’d like to have and then I’m comfortable not eating the whole thing. My kids can hug me all the way around.”
He’s 16 pant sizes smaller and he’s never felt better.
With obesity now being linked to diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease, Fontoura believes his dramatic weight loss has given him more time with his family.
“I was given the opportunity and the structure to help myself change, that’s pretty cool,” Fontoura said.
With files from Carmen Leibel