The Canadian Journal of Public Health recently published a report (in Vol. 104, No. 1) updating the “obesity map” of Canada. This study tracks the changes in obesity rates by province and territory approximately every two years for the 2000-2011 period. The data on the map shows a marked increase in the number of obese individuals (defined as adults with a BMI greater than 30) as a percentage of the population.
Not all the trends were up, however. As of 2011, there were no longer any provinces or territories where the obese population was greater than 35%. And there are some areas where the percentage has fluctuated up and down over the years but is improved overall (such as the Yukon). However, as of 2007, the last remaining province (BC) where the obese population was below 20% is now part of the national trend of increasing rates of obesity. Overall, as of 2011, slightly more than 25% of the country’s adults were reported to be obese, an increase of 3% from 2003.
The problem is, efforts at weight loss are difficult and often provide unsatisfactory results (or satisfactory results that do not last). The pace of modern life makes diet and exercise plans hard to maintain properly. It is well documented that obese individuals are at increased risk for health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Therefore significant and sustained weight loss is important for the long-term improvement in their health. As a result, many are turning to surgical options to achieve weight loss to get the results they need to finally control their weight for good.
One such method that is readily available in Canada is the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band (or Lap-Band) surgery. The Lap-Band is a medical device that wraps around the stomach, effectively partitioning the stomach in a small pouch of stomach above the band and the rest of the stomach below the band. This restricts a person’s ability to ingest large amounts of food at any one time. This leads to a comfortable reduction in caloric intake that sheds weight at a very safe rate of 1 – 2 pounds per week. It has the benefit of fewer dietary effects or restrictions than more invasive procedures, such as gastric bypass surgery.
There are various Lap Band Criteria that are used to assess whether this approach to beating the obesity epidemic is the right one for an individual. The main indicators are a BMI of more than 30, a history of failed weight loss efforts, and a willingness to change eating habits in a substantial way. Many people considering a Lap-Band worry about physical issues: being hungry or how their body will change as a large amount of weight is lost. It is important to find a clinic where patients have access to ongoing support are needed to accommodate the emotional and physical aspects of weight loss.