Questions raised on gastric banding in Australia

Monday, 2 November 2009

A visiting Swedish obesity expert has questioned the increasing use of gastric banding in Australia at the same time that University of Adelaide researchers have won new funding to investigate the issue.

Leading obesity expert Professor Stephan Rössner - who will give a free public lecture at the University of Adelaide tonight (Monday 2 November) - says the growing trend to perform gastric banding operations in Australia will do little to stop the obesity epidemic.

Gastric banding is the most commonly performed obesity operation in Australia. In 2005, 6000 operations were performed in Australia. Last year, 14,000 operations were performed.

However in Sweden, gastric banding is seen as a "slowly dying dinosaur" that often does not lead to long-term benefits, according to Professor Rössner, Director of the Obesity Unit, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm.

"In my country, 96% of all obesity surgery is done using an alternative procedure known as a gastric bypass, with close to 90% of these done using a minimally invasive approach," Professor Rössner says.

"Gastric bypass is widely believed to be a much more effective alternative to gastric banding because it leads to long-term weight loss."

The Federal Government's Preventative Health Task Force recommended that obesity surgery be offered by public hospitals because of the increasing health problem. This recommendation has widely been interpreted to mean gastric banding, using an adjustable band placed around the upper end of the stomach, instead of gastric bypass.

Gastric bypass vs gastric banding - new project

In the latest round of funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), researcher Dr Nam Nguyen has been awarded $428,250 to compare the two different types of obesity surgery.

Based in the NHMRC Centre of Clinical Research Excellence in Nutritional Physiology at the University of Adelaide and the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Dr Nguyen's research may help to determine the most appropriate procedure for obesity surgery.

Free public lecture

In his free public lecture at the University of Adelaide, Professor Stephan Rössner will speak about a range of issues spanning 40 years of obesity prevention and treatment.

"The early 21st century has been identified as the period in time when more people will die of over- rather than undernutrition. All parts of the globe are affected, and the trend is even more rapid in the developing parts of the world," Professor Rössner says.

"Prevention is the obvious long-term approach, but so far results in a long-term perspective have not been too encouraging, in spite of ambitious attempts."

Professor Rössner's visit to Adelaide is funded by the Northern Communities Health Foundation.

WHAT: Obesity in perspective after 40 years in the field: Facts, Fallacies, Fraud and the Future by Professor Stephan Rössner, Director, Obesity Unit, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden

WHERE: Florey Lecture Theatre, Medical School North, University of Adelaide, Frome Road

WHEN: 5.30pm-6.30pm Monday 2 November

COST: Free - all welcome

About the CCRE in Nutritional Physiology

The CCRE in Nutritional Physiology, Interventions and Outcomes was established in 2007 to recognise and reward successful clinical researchers, and expand their ability to produce high-quality research, provide clinical research training and translate their research funding into improved health outcomes.

The research group has grown from eight chief investigators in 2007 to 22 investigators, two postdoctoral fellows and eight postgraduate students in 2009. Researchers from the Centre have this week been awarded more than $7.2 million in various NHMRC Project Grants and Fellowships.


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