Sometimes I genuinely despair for the medical profession that I am a member of. There is an increasing desire to find complicated solutions and ignore simple solutions, which work. This mainly comes from academia, public health and those who devise guidelines rather than those who deal with patients.
A consensus statement was endorsed by the Australian Diabetes Society calling for gastric band surgery to be the first line of treatment for people with type two diabetes (T2DM) and a body mass index (BMI) over 40. It also argued for those with a BMI over 30 to have surgery.
Lets forget changing eating patterns and exercise and go straight to surgery.
The statement was endorsed by 45 scientific and medical societies worldwide. Conflicts of interest were not declared. They must have missed the Danish study released the same week showing a near doubling in use of psychiatric drugs after weight loss surgery. There is no suggestion that surgery cause psychiatric problems but given the links between emotions, weight and mental health, clearly surgery is not the answer.
But lets put that to one side. There is a more fundamental issue here.
The increase in obesity and T2DM is due to people following the low fat dietary advice pushed by public health over the last four decades. The British National Obesity Forum has called for an end to low fat diets. Rather than get support from those who claim to want to improve the health of the population they were called “irresponsible”.
Other simple measures can help with weight. The most basic one is eating more slowly. This enables your brain to keep up with what you are eating and for the brain to get the message that you are full. Eating while on your mobile or laptop or even watching TV distracts your mind from this message. Plus you are not focusing on the enjoyment of the food.
There is much work showing that eating at the table instead of on the couch also helps with weight. This particularly applies in children, where eating with the family has many other health benefits too.
Another simple thing you can do is read labels on food. This will tell you the sugar and calorie content. Change by the FDA in the USA will mean that portion sizes will now be more realistic (a single muffin wont be 1.7 serves) and added sugars will be listed, Hopefully other countries will follow.
And of course you can eat mainly foods, which do not have or need labels, in other words, real food.
With so many simple things you can do, surgery is absolutely not the first step!