Lifestyle change is top option for addressing obesity

Image-2Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; November 25, 2015: The impact of obesity on health is causing increasing concern in the UAE. Findings released earlier this year by Zurich International Life revealed that almost two-thirds of the country’s residents are either overweight or obese.

Recognising the serious health complications associated with obesity, in particular, that it could lead to increased risk for mortality, the World Health Organisation officially classified obesity as a disease.

Dr. Patrick Noel, Laparoscopic and Bariatric Surgeon for The American Surgecenter in Abu Dhabi, said, “The concern over obesity is not limited to the UAE as it is an escalating global epidemic. While the epidemic is an unwelcome development, this has led to greater focus on developing treatment and prevention options for obesity.  It also encouraged greater health-consciousness in our society.”

Lifestyle modification remains the first and top option for addressing obesity and achieving sustainable weight loss. “Medical science shows that genetics play a key role in developing obesity, but behaviour and environmental factors are key contributors too. Therefore, improving your eating habits and increasing your physical activity are effective strategies to manage obesity. Even at The American Surgecenter, that is the first course of treatment we recommend to our obese patients.  We refer them to our dietitian who would devise a weight loss program to help them lead a healthy lifestyle,” Dr. Noel said.

Realities, however, show that not all individuals who resolve to change their eating and exercising habits become successful, as there are a good number of patients whose bodies do not respond to lifestyle modifications.

“Obesity is an important risk factor for a range of serious chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and some cancers.  Because of these associated risks, it is extremely important that obesity is treated aggressively.  If a weight loss program through diet and exercise is proven difficult, that’s the only time we discuss with our patients bariatric surgery as an option,” Dr. Noel explained.

Bariatric surgery aims to restrict food intake and decrease the absorption of food in the stomach and intestines. By altering the normal digestion process, there is reduction in the amount of nutrients and calories absorbed by the body and this enables patients to lose weight and decrease their risk for obesity-related health risks or disorders.

Studies from several international organizations, including The National Institutes of Health in the USA, one of the world’s foremost medical research centres, recognise bariatric surgery as an effective treatment to combat severe obesity and maintain weight loss in the long term.  Based on article titled ‘Bariatric Surgery Worldwide 2013’, which is supported by the International Federation for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Disease, there are almost 500,000 bariatric surgeries performed in 49 countries in that same year.  In the UAE, there were 1,963 bariatric surgeries performed in 2011, as reported in a research published in the international journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy. Meanwhile, in Dubai alone, there were around 3,600 patients who underwent weight loss surgery procedure over the last three years, as revealed earlier this year by a specialist obesity surgeon from Dubai Healthcare City.

Treatment of obesity through bariatric surgery can be effective but Dr. Noel emphasized that it is not a quick-fix solution. “We discuss all aspects of the surgery with patients to make sure they understand the process fully before committing to it.  One of the most important steps for success that we highlight during consultations is strict adherence to post-surgery guidelines, which involves diet, exercise and lifestyle changes.  Bariatric surgery is not the easy way out as many people think; without a commitment to lifestyle changes, the surgery would have been in vain,” Dr. Noel stressed.

As bariatric surgery is a major step towards overcoming obesity, there is a prescribed criteria for a patient to become eligible for the procedure.  “There is a screening evaluation and a patient must meet the following – your body mass index (BMI) should be 40 or higher; you weigh at least 60 pounds more than your ideal weight; and, your age is above 18 years (although it can be done for a younger age in extreme cases).  Pre-operative evaluation also includes necessary assessments, such as psychological evaluation, nutrition consultation, and other various medical tests (cardiovascular evaluation, respiratory test, upper endoscopy, etc),” Dr. Noel concluded.

The American Surgecenter is on 12th Street (Mubarak Bin Mohammad Street), Villa 408, Al Rawdah Area, Abu Dhabi. Telephone number +9712 4430909. To learn more about The American Surgecenter, follow us on the web:



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