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Sep 1

SBS show The Obesity Myth is breaking down stigma – The Weekly Review

Photo: supplied

Obesity is a predominantly genetic disease, rather than a lifestyle choice thats the central premise of a new SBS show calledThe Obesity Myth.

The show, which followed doctors and patients at the University of Melbournes Austin Health forsix months, aimsto dispel the stigma attached to obesity.

Austin Healths Weight Control Clinic head professor Joseph Proietto says obese people face constant discrimination.

There is a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation about obesity in the community its an injustice, he says.Gluttony is seen as sinful, and to commit a sin you have to use free will. So the idea has been that people choose to be fat.

The world-renowned obesity management expert says he hopes the program will show obesity is far more complicated than generallythought.

Recent research has revealed how the body regulates weight through the hormones leptin (which decreases appetite) and ghrelin (which increases it). Whenpeople lose weight, their leptin levels decreaseand their ghrelin levels increase.

In 2011, Austin Health discovered levels of otherhormones also change according to weight gain or loss, and that those changes are enduring. Proiettosays this evidence points strongly to weight gain being genetic.

Finding that hormone changes after weight loss are long-lasting showed us that medication needs to be life-long, he says. Obesity is a chronic condition.

In 2014, another of the clinics studies showed the rate of weight loss did not affect how quickly weight was regained, and that more people succeeded in a rapid weight-loss program than a gradual program.

Professor Joseph Proietto. Photo: SBS

To combat obesity in patients, the clinics physicians conduct a thorough history and targeted examination, then offer a partial, very-low-energy diet thatreplaces breakfast and lunch.

After theyve lost all the weight they want to lose, whether it takes three months, six months or a year, then we wean them off the diet and back onto things like carbs and fruit, Proietto says.

A dietician will outlinea balanced, energy-reduced diet, and the clinic will continue to follow the patientsprogress. If theyre struggling to keep weight off because of increased hunger, medication is prescribed.

Proietto hopes the clinics research intoobesity will become common knowledge.

GPs are getting better at treating this condition than they used to be, he says. Hopefully they will continue to educate the public to try to dispel this myth.

If youre struggling with obesity Proietto says not to beat yourself around the head, because its probably genetic. He suggests seeking medical assistance.

Speak to your doctor about it, and see if you can get some help, he says.

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SBS show The Obesity Myth is breaking down stigma – The Weekly Review

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