Understand obesity’s complexities with talk

TALKING about any health concern can be challenging, often awkward, even if such discussions are with health professionals.

Weighing in on obesity issues demands a large degree of sensitivity because obesity is such a complex social, cultural and health issue across all communities. But particularly in our region, because report after report has Ballarat tipping the scales as one of the nation’s heaviest cities.

Prevention awareness is growing but it is also refreshing to hear one of the nation’s leading anaesthetists calling for patients struggling with obesity and their doctors to each be more upfront in discussing potential surgeries, involving specialist voices, facilities and post-operative care options. 

Professor David A Scott, the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists’ president, says obese patients, like any patient, should know they have the right to investigate their own health further – especially in understanding the extra complexities and risks in their weight.

This call comes in new guidelines, made on Monday, under a joint campaign between medical colleges.

The focus is on empowering patients, rather than enabling, in moving forward.

This is about being confident, if surgery is essential, in understanding surgery’s high risks for complex patients and the best avenues to address these, like round-the-clock care and specially skilled staff ratios. 

Professor Scott said there should be no shying away from the fact you might be a larger patient because obesity is not a condition that can change overnight. But you could choose to better understand methods to improve best health outcomes.

Speaking more openly is a message we can all adapt to our health. Too many health subjects are deemed socially taboo and we need to change this to ensure better health outcomes for all people across the region.

Get talking. We have great facilities, medical services and medical staff in Ballarat. We also have great support groups, too. Community initiatives, like Western Bulldogs’ Sons of the West program for men’s health tends to surprise all participants – men, opening up about health issues they had never otherwise considered sharing.

We should not be embarrassed to ask for advice, or share health concerns with friends or health professionals. Asking questions to get the right help is a big step forward in tackling any health issue as a community and as an individual.