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Treatment and management option for obesity

02 November 2018 Blog
Obesity is now recognised as a chronic disease, right up there with conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, however Bariatric Surgeon Ravi Rao says many people – both patients and health care professionals – still see obesity as a lifestyle choice.

As a bariatric specialist, I am committed to introducing a new train of thought that can benefit patients significantly in the long term, which is that the body has an inbuilt set-point that makes weight loss complicated.

What is a set-point? 

A person’s set-point guides their weight, which is where they will naturally return to regardless of diet or exercise.

This set-point controls a person’s appetite, digestion, energy balance and metabolism.

It helps if you view this as a perfect storm, setting people up for a lifetime of battling weight gain and obesity. 

Obesity is very common

Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicates that 70.8 per cent of males and 56.3 per cent of females are classified as overweight or obese. GPs play a critical role in helping people find the best outcomes for their health.

Obesity treatment options

Bariatric surgery is one way to treat people who have unsuccessfully tried to lose weight only to continue to return to their set-point.

Research has indicated that people try serious weight loss strategies an average of seven times during their adulthood and that only 10 per cent of these with obesity sustain the weight loss for more than a year.

How does bariatric surgery work?

Bariatric surgery works by re-setting the set-point. The surgery affects the signals between the brain and the body, which can help decrease appetite and re-set the body. This makes longer term weight loss much more likely.

My main message, is that like any other chronic disease, we have more chance of success the earlier we intervene. We reduce the risk of advanced chronic disease that often go hand-in-hand with obesity, and we also have better long-term outcomes for the patient.

A number of surgical options are available that are specifically targeted to each patient. These can include gastric sleeve, SIPS bariatric surgery and Roux en Y gastric bypass. 

Dr Ravi Rao - Bariatric Surgeon

Dr Ravi Rao is a minimally invasive surgeon, with a focus on advanced laparoscopy and bariatrics who practices at St John of God Mt Lawley and Subiaco hospitals. He is a certified Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. His bariatric scope of practice includes laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, various types of gastric bypass and revision surgeries.