Twenty-five per cent of Australian adults are estimated to be clinically obese.
The common view is that obesity is a self-inflicted condition. But one Melbourne clinic is challenging that perception.
Austin Health Obesity Physician, Professor Joe Proietto says he treats obesity as a chronic genetic disease.
“The view that obesity is genetic is controversial, however the evidence is very strong that there is a genetic predisposition to obesity,” said Professor Proietto.
In a new SBS documentary Obesity Myth, doctors are trying to treat patients through a combination of diet, medication and surgery, tailored specifically for their genetic make-up.
Professor Proietto believes the environment has far less bearing on weight than genetics.
But Sydney University Obesity Research Director, Dr Nick Fuller says blaming genetics is only going to make the obesity crisis worse.
“We are finding more and more genes that contribute to obesity but genetics are not the reason for the increase in prevalence of obesity,” said Dr Fuller.
Dr Fuller believes dieting is not the most effective solution. He believes weight loss should happen slowly, to trick the body into believing it is at a new set weight point.
“They need to lose a small amount of weight before the usual response to weight loss kicks in and maintain that weight so they can reprogram their set weight before going on to lose weight,” said Dr Fuller.
Helene Jagdon has been trying to lose weight for 30 years. She has tried every fad diet and training regime in the book.
Only in the last few years under Dr Fuller’s strategy has she been able to lose 14 kilograms and keep it off.
“He didn’t make us feel like we were on a diet, he was just guiding us to what foods we can eat and not really saying what foods we can’t eat.
“He was just saying if you feel like having a laksa, have a laksa, but maybe limit it to one takeaway treat in a week,” said Ms Jagdon.
Now sitting at a comfortable 68 kilograms, Helene has maintained her passion for cooking and is inspiring people half her age to lose weight without dramatically changing their lives.
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The three-part documentary series The Obesity Myth starts September 4 on SBS at 7.30pm.