MALAYSIA - If you're obese and want another option to lose weight, consider bariatric surgery. It has been proven to be an effective and sustainable method of shedding excess kilos.
Based on the United Nations Statistics Division 2012, among ASEAN countries, Malaysia has the highest percentage of obese people in the population (ie with a body mass index, or BMI of above 30 kg/m²).
There are 19.5 per cent obese Malaysians, followed by Thailand (9.1 per cent), Brunei (7.9 per cent), Singapore (6.4 per cent), the Philippines (6.1 per cent), Indonesia (4.8 per cent), Myanmar (4.1 per cent), Laos (3.5 per cent), Cambodia (2.2 per cent) and Vietnam (1.5 per cent).
Our consumption of high-caloric foods, combined with a lack of exercise, are the main culprits for this. But, thanks to medical advances, help is available.
"Bariatric surgery is basically a procedure to change the gastrointestinal tract to initiate early fullness.
"Most of the procedures create a restriction in the stomach. Some techniques have rearranged the gastrointestinal tract to reduce absorption of nutrients.
"In South-East Asia, we have achieved excellent results in terms of weight loss. The percentage of weight loss and remission rate of co-morbidities (the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a patient) are comparable to the West, while our complication rates are as low as that in the West," said bariatric surgeon Dr Suthep Udomsawaengsup from Chulalongkorn University's (Thailand) Faculty of Medicine.
The most popular bariatric procedure in this region is sleeve gastrectomy (the removal of a portion of the stomach), and gastric bypass (making the stomach smaller, causing food to bypass a large part of the stomach, as well as parts of the small intestine, so that less nutrients and calories are absorbed).
The other bariatric procedure, gastric banding, is not common any more.
More women are prone to obesity compared to their male counterparts, and Dr Udomsawaengsup said hormones could be a contributing aspect. However, diet and exercise are still pertinent factors in weight control.