Continuing on from my previous blog now come the stats on weight loss reduction surgery. 40% of patients undergoing bariatric surgery are under 25, which is, of course, good and bad news. Good they want to do something about their weight, bad they got to that point in the first place. To be eligible for the surgery most people will be very obese, greater than 2 x their ideal weight. That means they’re carrying around an extra person they shouldn’t be. Clearly this is worrying for a number of reasons. What are the longer term consequences of the surgery and can the obvious benefits (impressive reductions in weight and Type Ii diabetes) be sustained? And why can’t we prevent kids form getting this overweight? See my previous blog for some musings on why this might be happening. This is a national health emergency. If we thought an ageing population was going to be the ticking time bomb for healthcare costs, obesity threatens to dwarf it because young people will get diabetes and cardiovascular disease and cancers earlier in life and need treatment for longer. And of course there are going to be more and more cases to deal with.
More physical activity in schools is an obvious way to go, as is treating cheap calories like units of alcohol and taxing them. Plus there are simple things like not loading the aisle next to a checkout with sweets and chocolate. In some ways this isn’t a hard war to wage, yes it might reflect an almost evolutionary step in the way people in richer nations choose to live their lives. But can we afford to go this way? No, is the short answer. We cannot.