The weight is over
Aug 18, 2016
With Australia's obesity crisis worsening, for many the search for effective solutions has become a matter of life and death.
After launching a comprehensive new service, Sunshine Coast bariatric surgeons James Askew and Garth McLeod have made it their mission to help others banish the bulge for good.
Their jobs involve performing laparoscopic or 'key-hole' operations for patients requiring surgical intervention to help achieve their weight loss goals. It's tough work, but both James and Garth say the results they see in their patients make it all worthwhile.
"At a population level, we're not going to make a dent in the staggering obesity statistics in Australia. However, at an individual level, we can make a difference," explains Garth.
"We can help these people lose weight and as a result improve or resolve the medical problems associated with this excess weight. This improves their quality of life and many find they have a new lease on life - it really can be life changing."
The statistics Garth is referring to are concerning. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian Health Survey from 2014-2015, 63.4 per cent of our nation's adult population is overweight or obese, and that number is steadily climbing.
"There are now more overweight and obese people in Australia than people of a healthy weight over the age of 18 years, and the kids' statistics are looking pretty grim as well," says Garth.
It's for this reason Garth and James decided to team up and launch a comprehensive service offering patients a number of surgical options with Weight Loss Solutions Sunshine Coast.
"We're offering a range of weight loss surgery procedures, including laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, laparoscopic gastric bypass and also laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding," says James.
"By the time we see a lot of people, they've been yoyo dieting for the majority of their life, which is why surgery comes into play - because their dieting hasn't worked for them. By being able to offer options with a support team who can aid in the process, we're able to approach it in a non-biased way."
Garth explains that after their initial consultation with a patient establishing the patient's expectations and explaining the surgical options in-depth, including both risks and rewards, patients must then speak with a dietician before going any further, and are also encouraged to consult with the team's psychologist and exercise physiologist.
"We're not going to achieve anything unless the patient comes to terms with the fact they're going to have to change the way they interact with food," he says. "We are surgeons, and this is not aesthetic surgery, it's for better health and well-being. We're not going to turn you into bikini models or an ironman, but we will improve your quality of life."
The results experienced by patients as a result of this type of surgery has seen the International Diabetes Society endorse it as a standard of care for diabetic patients with a body mass index over 40 - something that has never been done before.
"We're not saying we're the only answer," says Garth. "What we're saying is that we are part of the answer and if you look at the evidence, non-surgical means to lose weight are typically not successful or sustainable. Surgery, while not perfect, is the best thing we've got at present with respect to durable weight loss. Of course this is tempered by the fact there are risks associated - as there is with any surgery - but given the right patient selection, those risks are outweighed by the risks of obesity being left unchecked because of the medical complications associated with excess weight and obesity."
"We often get people coming in unsure of themselves, with a host of medical problems and frankly pretty miserable. But when we see our patients after surgery, with the ensuing weight loss, they really come out of their shells. They're a different person and that transformation is the reason we do what we do."
Weight Loss Solutions Sunshine Coast is run from two locations, with Dr Garth McLeod based at Noosa Hospital and Dr James Askew based at Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital.