Tasmania is now the gastric band capital of Australia with about 1.5 per cent, or 7,500 Tasmanians having undergone bariatric, or gastric band surgery. It is perhaps no surprise that Tasmania has the highest rate of bariatric surgery of any state or territory, given 65 per cent of its population is overweight or obese. A national health survey released this month found that while Australians were drinking alcohol and smoking less, the national rate of obese/overweight adults had risen from 56 to 63 per cent. Hobart woman Michelle Gunn underwent gastric band surgery to tackle her own weight issues seven years ago. She was told she would develop diabetes if she did not lose weight. Ms Gunn said her life has improved a lot since the gastric band surgery. “I lost 35 kilos, I went from a size 24 down to a size 10,” she said. “You don’t walk around with your head down all the time … you can do lots of things without the huffing and puffing,” she added. Hobart-based bariatric surgeon Doctor Stephen Wilkinson, who has performed almost half of all gastric band operations in Tasmania since 1998, said the state has outranked other jurisdictions for some time. “That’s quite a unique statistic, something like one-and-a-half per cent of the Tasmanian population has a lap band and there’s nowhere quite like that in the world,” he said.
Gastric band blitz puts dent in surgery list
Facts about obesity
- In the past 22 years, prevalence of obese/overweight adults across Australia rose from 38 per cent to 63.4 per cent
- Tasmania has highest state percentage of obese/overweight adults at 65.9 per cent
- Western Australia has lowest state percentage of obese/overweight adults at 60.3 per cent
- Of Tasmanians, 93 per cent do not eat enough fruit and vegetables
- From 2007 to 2012, prevalence of obesity/overweight children in Tasmanian children rose from 18.6 per cent to 28.8 per cent