27 October 2016
Reducing the intake of fat and sugar in meals, and regular physical activity, is essential for controlling body weight. Photo: Bloomberg
Reducing the intake of fat and sugar in meals, and regular physical activity, is essential for controlling body weight. Photo: Bloomberg

Interventions in fight against obesity

As can be inferred from the name, “Obese Metabolic Syndrome” is an ailment stemming from obesity.

It refers to a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels — that might occur together, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

In Hong Kong, about three to four percent of the people have a body mass index reading exceeding 30, meaning they are severely obese.

A fatty layer around the torso is definitely a cause for alarm.

Obesity can be a result of several factors including improper diet, eating disorders, lack of exercise and genetic factors.

To address the health issue, a multidisciplinary management team for patients with obese metabolic syndrome has been in place at the Prince of Wales Hospital since 2002, providing assessment and counseling on severely obese patients who need bariatric intervention.

Let’s look at some cases the doctors had to deal with.

Mr Lau, 24, who is a patient with obstructive sleep apnea, weighed over 220 pounds. He used to always feel fatigued and tired during daytime. Upset with his physical condition, he would refuse to go out, opting instead to stay at home and play computer games.

Referred to the Multidisciplinary Clinic of Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery, Lau received a sleeve gastrectomy surgery, which helped him lose 77 pounds. He has now become more active, maintaining a disciplined diet and regular exercise.

Lau’s confidence and self-esteem has improved and he has started participating in group activities such as cosplaying.

Another patient surnamed Yeung, who is a teacher in math and physical education, has been diagnosed with diabetes after pregnancy. At her worst state, she couldn’t handle physical education lessons at work and needed to take pills and inject insulin for controlling her condition.

After receiving care from the clinic, she has successfully lost 77 pounds. Right now Yeung can pick up classes again and she takes only one pill daily for her diabetes.

In handling the cases, specialist teams first assess and understand the physical conditions and daily habits of the patients. That leads to tailor-made solutions for weight loss, including diet and increased physical activities.

Dietitians help draft suitable meals while physiotherapists advise appropriate workout exercises for the obese patients.

However, if weight management shows no satisfactory progress, bariatric surgery like sleeve gastrectomy or gastric bypass might be recommended for patients.

But one should not be under the impression that such procedures are shortcuts to weight loss. They are suitable only for certain patients of specific weight. And after surgery, the patients have to control their diet and do regular exercise to eradicate the problem of obesity.

Everyone, regardless of whether he or she is suffering from obese metabolic syndrome, should develop healthy habits to lower the risk factors.

Reduce the intake of fat and sugar and increase the consumption of dietary fibers in your meals. Vigorous exercise would help burn excess calories.

Take readings of blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol or triglyceride levels regularly. When the readings become poor, people should pay attention and adjust their lifestyle.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 29.

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Consultant, Department of Surgery, Prince of Wales Hospital

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