Professor Finer has said forget the diets, they don't work for most people. Weight loss surgery will have to be made available to most people who need to lose weight in the future. He is not talking about the gastric band, this is the full monty - gastric bypass surgery known by various other names by obesity experts.
TV programmes and magazines used to focus on the horror aspect of weight loss surgery. We had stories about people who had to sit and have a teaspoon full of soup while watching their partners tucking in to a banquet at the local Chinese restaurant. Now, celebrities such as Vanessa Feltz and Anne Diamond have succumbed to the gastric band and are telling the world how glad they are to leave behind the struggle of their relationship with food on the cutting room floor. This will mean that many more people who are tired of yo-yo dieting will feel that it is normal and acceptable to choose surgery as the ultimate solution for their weight and eating problems.
Surgeons are getting better at doing weight loss surgery; they are doing more of it and talking to each other about what works best. That can't be a bad thing at all. I have personal experience of good success stories and I have heard of things that can go wrong - some colleagues who warn us of greatly increased suicide rates among people when all the euphoria of the early weight losses is over. I have also heard stories of weight regain in some people who have done the surgery, in some cases at great personal expense.
Counsellors are very opposed to gastric surgery. They believe that overeating is a symptom of something that cannot be brushed away. There are associations of overeating with managing trauma and dangerous emotions. Fatness can be a useful defence in someone who is posibly afraid of being vulnerable at a lower weight. One person said to me, "if my boyfriend left me, I could blame the weight. If I was slim I would have to blame myself".
Compulsive eating is not a contra-indication for weight loss surgery. Surprisingly, many people who binge eat find that the compulsions disappear after their operation at least for a couple of years. It is only then that weight loss slows up or eating difficulties begin to reappear. It has to make sense therefore to do some eating disorder counselling for the bariatric patient. But very few get it.
Gastric banders who are compulsive eaters do less well. Because their stomach is still intact the appetite may not wane and we hear stories of people who try to cheat their band by eating foods that slip down easily like ice cream. It has to make sense for these people to have some pre surgery eating disorder counselling too. But very few get it.
Bariatric counselling is a specialist area. If you want the surgery or if you want to help people who are desperate to lose weight, get in touch. The number is 0845 838 2040