With the waiting list for weight loss surgeries mounting to a few thousands at the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) in recent months, an increasing number of people are also travelling abroad for similar procedures. The HMC performed an average of 70 to 100 surgeries every month over one and a half year alone.
This has also led to a mushrooming of weight loss facilities in the private sector that are catering to the increasing demand of people struggling with obesity, many of whom are willing to pay a whopping QR50,000 for a surgery.
Doctors suggest that authorities needed to take obesity as a serious problem and include it in health insurance schemes.
While obesity remains a major challenge in the Qatari population, what’s more alarming is the number of adolescents who struggle with obesity and opt for weight loss surgery.
Studies suggest that nearly 28 percent of Qatari children are overweight and 50 percent of Qatari boys suffer from severe obesity.
To recall, the youngest patient to undergo weight loss surgery at HMC was a 13-year-old Qatari boy.
The surgery took place a year ago in which the boy lost close to 60kg. Doctors said he had become obese only because his parents gave him too much to eat.
The issue raises a serious concern about the lifestyle of many here, where high purchasing power has led to a rise in the culture of eating out while physical inactivity remains a dilemma for many.
Experts also link obesity to many physiological disorders where people are constantly under stress because they think they are not ‘attractive enough’.
Some people, according to studies, eat more either because they are stressed or because they just feel bored.
Many people opt for weight loss surgery as a ‘quick fix’ short-cut solution when the problem can be addressed with a change in lifestyle and a little workout.
According to one fitness expert, although people register at gyms with high enthusiasm, a majority lose interest within a few weeks when they do not see ‘instant results’.
Parag Parelkar, an exercise physiotherapist, suggests that weight loss surgery may not be a solution for many problems linked with obesity.
He says weight loss surgery is advisable only in extreme cases where people are suffering from morbid obesity.
“Obesity is linked to hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes as well as mental and emotional imbalance, which cannot be addressed through weight loss surgery alone,” Parelkar points out.
Many people who struggle with weight issues are stuck in a vicious cycle, which can be addressed simply by a ‘good run’, suggests the expert.
“It’s not just magic. Scientific studies show that exercise alters brain chemistry and produces good stress hormones which have a good impact on the body.”