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Weight loss surgery will pay for itself: Experts
Weight loss surgery will pay for itself: Experts
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AAP MediaNet Press Releases (May 3, 2011) - Experts say clinically obese Australians should be educated about the overall financial benefits of overcoming obesity via weight loss surgery as a new report launched today shows the surgery will eventually "pay for itself".

Launched at the Royal Australian College of Surgeons 2011 Annual Scientific Congress in Adelaide, the report summarises the latest health economic analyses that show weight loss surgery patients could expect to recoup the initial cost of the surgery within about three and half years. This is because of the significant financial savings associated with overcoming obesity.

Lynne Pezzullo, Director of Deloitte Access Economics and Lead Partner of the Deloitte Heath Economics and Social Policy group, says the personal financial benefits of weight loss surgery are often overlooked when people do the sums regarding the costs of the procedure.

"Quite apart from the substantial health system costs associated with being obese - such as the treatment costs for conditions like diabetes, heart disease and trips to the doctor for various arthritic problems, there is also the loss of income connected with diseases that obese people are at increased risk of contracting in the future - like cancer," said Ms Pezzullo.

"When patients are thinking about weight loss surgery they also need to think about how they can save on the other side of the equation."

Weight loss surgeon and President of the Obesity Surgery Society of Australia and New Zealand (OSSANZ), Dr Lilian Kow, says her patients frequently overlook the financial benefits of the surgery.

"Financially patients who have lost significant weight feel better about themselves. As they start losing weight they get more confident in themselves and in their professional lives and quite often also change jobs for the better and therefore, their quality of life improves," said Dr Kow.

Associate Professor Marg McGill, who is the manager of the Diabetes Centre at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney and a former Senior Vice-President of the International Diabetes Federation, says the financial benefits are often tied in with the health and lifestyle improvements people experience after losing weight.

"There are a number of benefits of weight loss surgery that are tied in with the financial outcomes. Once people start to lose weight their osteoarthritis can reduce. I had a patient recently who told me that she no longer has to catch a taxi to see me, she catches the bus. She's really excited about being able to walk down the street and get on the bus. So not only is she enjoying life more but she is saving money on the cab fare too," said Ms McGill.

Some quick facts:

  • According to Access Economics, the annual costs related to obesity which affect the Australian population is approximately $8.5 billion. For an individual, these costs are approximately $19,000 per annum.
  • A large proportion of the out-of-pocket costs that are incurred as a result of obesity are related to the various clinical conditions that are associated with being obese, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and ongoing medication.
  • On average it takes approximately three and a half years to recoup the costs associated with weight loss surgery. This is a result of productivity gains, health system savings and improved quality of life.

For media enquires, please contact: Martin Palin (mpalin@palin.com.au; 0418 419 258) or Karina Candia (0402 307 056) at Palin Communications on 02 9412 2255.
SOURCE: Johnson & Johnson

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