Yesterday, the Herald Sun newspaper published an article about how the rising rate of obesity has put our public hospitals under an enormous amount of resource and financial pressure.
The problem is that our already under-funded hospitals are not suitably equipped to deal with obese patients. Australia has one of the highest obesity rates in the world and, as a result, there is a shortage of specialized beds, wheelchairs, operating tables, hoists & surgical equipment specific for these oversized patients.
In Victoria, the AMA has asked the State Government for an extra $10 million to buy much needed equipment to ensure the proper treatment of obese patients. In fact, the situation has become so serious that morbidly obese patients are being transferred on an almost daily basis to other hospitals due to the lack of suitable facilities.
No doubt, public hospitals in all states are facing a similar dilemma, however buying equipment to treat obese patients is just ‘accepting’ that obesity is a normal part of our society.
On top of the need for more equipment for obese patients, studies have proven that obese patients, generally, have longer stays in hospital compared than those of a normal weight – to put it bluntly, obesity is a huge financial burden on our health system!
Having a BMI in the morbidly obese category is NOT normal. A better spend of the $10 million needed in Victoria would be in delivering an effective ‘anti-obesity’ message so there is never a need for such equipment in hospitals by the next generation. In fact, a 2010 report by a chief health officer in Queensland states that a 5.5 kg reduction in body weight in Australian women would reduce the incidence of diabetes by 23% and of hypertension by 12%…this means even a small weight loss could prevent prolonged stays in hospitals.
It is currently estimated that 140 Australians PER DAY die of obesity-related disease. There is no denying that Australia is certainly in the grip of an obesity epidemic & drastic action needs to be taken now! We simply can’t afford not to.
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