Australian state fighting obesity as record numbers opt for weight-loss surgery

December 23, 2015 6:34 am 

MELBOURNE, Dec. 22 — A record number of people from the Australian state of Tasmania are undergoing a medical procedure in order to fight the region's obesity epidemic.

About 7,500 Australians from the island state have turned to gastric band surgery, also known as lap band surgery, a powerful weight-loss technique which restricts the size of the individual's stomach.

Bariatric surgeon Doctor Stephen Wilkinson, who regularly carries out the procedure, said business was booming in Tasmania.

"That's quite a unique statistic, something like 1.5 percent of the Tasmanian population has a lap band and there's nowhere quite like that in the world," Wilkinson told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday.

"We were able to get something like 120 lap bands done within about four or five months and that made a big dent in the waiting list."

According to the latest data for the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 65 percent of Tasmanian adults are classed as either obese or overweight.

Last year, the Australian government announced a regional "blitz" to conduct more of these stomach-stapling procedures – which typically cost close to USD7,000 – in a bid to combat Tasmania's broadening bellies.

Australia's Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the scheme had reduced the state's waiting list considerably.

"Currently, 29 people remain on the statewide waiting list for gastric band surgery, a significant drop from 176 patients waiting for the procedure in June 2014," he said in statement on Tuesday.

On Monday, the Tasmanian government canvassed the idea of increasing its minimum smoking age – within the state – from 18 years old to 21, or potentially as high as 25.

The idea was part of the government's five-year preventative health plan, with the ultimate goal of turning Tasmania into Australia's healthiest state by 2025. (PNA/Xinhua)



Comments are closed.