Abu Dhabi: Medical data indicate that obese patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 45 and above will eventually require surgery.

The revelation was made during the sixth annual International Conference of Al Noor Hospital 2011 titled ‘Minimally Invasive Surgery', which concluded on Saturday.

Professor Safwan A. Taha, professor of surgery, consultant laparoscopic and bariatric surgeon from Al Noor Hospital, spoke about his experience with obese and diabetic people in the UAE.

"The UAE has the second highest obesity and diabetes rate in the world, with up to 37 per cent obese schoolchildren. Five years ago one out of five children was obese; in 2010 one in three children was obese."

Due to poor eating habits, sedentary lifestyle and metabolic disorders, obesity rates are rising, he observed. "No matter how much dieting or exercise some people do, they tend to regain the weight after a few months, and that's when we encourage them to undergo surgery."

During the inauguration at ICAN, which kicked off last week, Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, spoke about the importance of improving public health by lessening the burden of diseases in general.

"Pioneered and advanced medical techniques such as minimally invasive surgery has resulted in less trauma and suffering for patients. Through surgery and various advances in surgical techniques, the health sector has witnessed dramatic improvement, with faster healing recovery, which in the past took far more time," said Shaikh Nahyan.

A minimally invasive surgery (MIS) is a major advance in bringing to patients the results of traditional surgical procedures, while eliminating physically and emotionally traumatic elements.

A bariatric surgery according to Professor Taha who has operated on over 160 obese and/or diabetic patients between the ages of 16 and 40, is conducted in three ways depending on a patient's condition, namely, through a gastric band, which helps a patient lose 45 to 50 per cent of his/her weight in three years; a gastric sleeve - which reduces fat by 65 to 75 per cent in three years, and gastric bypass, which results in 75 to 80 per cent weight loss in three years.

Side effects, he added, are minimal. "No surgery is risk-free, however it's a safe surgery," said Professor Taha.

Treatment: Support group

Starting next month, a support group for patients who plan to undergo bariatric surgery will be available at Al Noor Hospital. To book an appointment with the bariatric support group, contact 800-55666.

ICAN 2011

The 6th annual International Conference of Al Noor Hospital concluded yesterday. The event attracted 400 delegates, 15 speakers (most of whom are regional and international surgeons) and saw 30 new presentations being made.

Do you know someone who has undergone surgery to overcome obesity? How was their experience?