“More die in the United States of too much food than of too little”
― John Kenneth Galbraith
The same will apply in New Zealand too. This is one of the ironies of so much attention being given to poverty in New Zealand.
Perversely some claim obesity is partly due to poverty – poor people can’t afford healthy food so they eat cheap fattening food. That doesn’t address an obvious question – why do they eat so much?
New Zealand is fat and getting fatter.
International Business Times: New Zealand May Overtake US And Mexico As ‘Fattest Nation’
New Zealand is on track to become the fattest country in the world. A bariatric surgeon from Canterbury wrote in The New Zealand Medical Journal that the country was about to overtake the United States and Mexico in terms of obesity rates.
But alternate views are express on nzDcotor.co.nz in No surgery silver bullet for New Zealand’s obesity epidemic – GP
In the New Zealand Medical Journaltoday, Christchurch bariatric surgeons Steven Kelly and Richard Flint call for more weight-loss surgery, saying New Zealand is on track to be the fattest nation in the world in five years.
They say the surgery – most commonly sleeve gastrectomies or gastric bypasses – will pay for itself within a few years, in terms of savings on treatment for diabetes and other obesity-related health problems.
“Patients can expect an average of 50-70 per cent excess body weight loss that is maintained over several years,” the authors say in an editorial.
Bariatric surgery may not be the solution to New Zealand’s growing obesity problem, warns an Auckland GP who specialises in weight management.
Anne-Thea McGill from Herne Bay Medical Centre says GPs are picking up the pieces when bariatric surgery causes complications or patients regain weight lost after surgery.
Dr McGill says she has seen patients who are still vomiting years after surgery, who may be slim but have nutritional problems or who have a gastric band that has slipped.
Also, she says, there’s a big difference between obesity and metabolic problems such as diabetes and fatty liver, which gastric surgery may not solve.
I know from experience that weight management is a daily challenge but it’s possible for most people.
Dr McGill, who is also a senior lecturer in general practice and primary care at Auckland University, leads a Ministry of Health-contracted programme Supporting Weight Management in Primary Care in the Bay of Plenty.
She believes the answer for most is still weight management through diet and exercise, although she does support some increase in the number of weight-loss surgeries each year.
With good support and information surgery can work well and diabetes can be reversed but patients need to follow sound dietary advice, rather than simply eating smaller portions of bad foods, Dr McGill says.
It’s easy for me to say but I don’t like the idea of my healthy stomach being meddled with surgically.
One of the authors, Richard Flint, told New Zealand Doctor patients are given yearly follow-up appointments for the rest of their lives but inevitably the rate of attendance drops away over the years.
He says there are few complications with the modern weight-loss procedures, unlike the stomach-stapling operations of 20 years ago. After three years of follow-ups, now, very often, there is nothing to follow up.
He would be disappointed if GPs stopped recommending surgery on the basis of one or two cases where complications had arisen.
I’d still be concerned about both short term complications and long term effects (which we simply can’t know about yet).
Eating less and/or exercising more is safer, but unfortunately for an increasing number it’s too hard.
We live in a quick fix society – where people expect others to fix their problems.