Gold Coast specialist surgeon Dr Jacobus Jordaan has launched a new community engagement campaign to educate the public on the dangers of obesity and help break down the barriers to seeking treatment.
Dr Jordaan’s latest community campaign called “Start the Conversation” aims to educate the community on the impact of obesity while encouraging them to have the confidence to start a conversation with their general practitioner to seek treatment.
Over five million people suffer from obesity in Australia. Obesity has been well established as a cause of diabetes, heart disease and infertility – and now has been linked to 13 different types of cancer including colorectal and breast cancer. These illnesses are becoming all too common in our society, according to Dr Jordaan – upper gastrointestinal, endocrine and bariatric surgeon.
“It’s not just about ‘looking good’ – it’s about taking your health into your own hands and taking informed and educated action. There are serious diseases associated with obesity – it has become the leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in Australia.
The campaign aims to encourage people to take obesity seriously as a disease – as it overtakes smoking as the leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in Australia.
“The statistics of obesity are alarming and the incidence is dangerously rising,” he said.
“Obesity is no longer considered a cosmetic issue caused by overeating and a lack of self control. The World Health Organisation recognises obesity as a chronic progressive disease that results from genetic and multi environmental factors.
“As with most chronic diseases, lifestyle choices can make their disease better or worse – but the reality is, research has shown time and time again that people suffering from obesity can’t just eat well and exercise to lose a large amount of weight. They need clinical intervention and medical treatment, but often feel too judged to ask for it.”
“Generally, if you have a BMI over 30 you have obesity. If the weight isn’t coming off with diet and exercise, then it’s time to start a conversation with your GP about what else you can do,” said Dr Jordaan.
“Our new community engagement campaign is about educating those who suffer from obesity, giving them the facts, showing them treatment options and inspiring them to have the confidence and courage to seek help.
“As a society, people suffering from obesity are judged. If a friend or family member reaches out to say they have a disease such as diabetes – they are instantly supported. Obesity is also a disease, but it’s one that comes with a lot of stigma which stops a sufferer from ‘starting the conversation’.”
“GPs tell me how hard it can be for them to start a conversation with their patients about how weight affects their health and how the GP can help them to access the most effective treatments available. Then patients come into my surgery and tell me how hard it was for them start the conversation with their GP about how their weight is affecting their health, and how they would like help to treat it. So we’re saying to both GPs and public– just Start the Conversation. You could be surprised at how easy it is once you get going.”
Dr Jordaan says that while the new publicity programs aim to encourage the community to speak out about obesity, it’s also about motivating them to take action and source treatment.
“They say we spend the first half of our lives spending our health to gain wealth, and the second half of our lives spending our wealth on regaining our health,” he said.
“The reality is, most people work too much, value convenience and price over quality, don’t sleep enough or don’t make the time to exercise or eat well. As a nation, there is a perception that we are too ‘busy’ to look after our health.
“But it’s time to take action and the good news is, there are plenty of medical interventions available for those suffering from obesity. Bariatric surgery is the most effective.
“I encourage people suffering from obesity to start talking and seek help before health issues spiral out of control. Everyone deserves to be happy and healthy.”
The new community engagement campaign has launched with an educational social media campaign, community radio campaign, and free educational sessions.
Dr Jordaan specialises in bariatric surgery and the research of obesity. His private practice, The Surgical Weight Loss Centre, offers tailored treatment with life-time support to patients and a multi-disciplinary approach to care.
The practice is home to a clinical psychologist, dietitians and bariatric nurses and prides itself on its warm and welcoming environment.