The cost of me on the NHS, weight loss surgery? Really?

Published February 16, 2015 by Crystal

Have been reading the article by Doctor Christian Jessen in The Daily Mail (from some weeks ago) that “Weight loss surgery makes economic sense”.

I breezed through the article the first time, not too happy at all with the idea that a serious operation could potentially save the NHS millions of Pounds.  But on reading again I think I have come to an understanding of where Doctor Christian is coming from.

I am obese, according to those delightful BMI charts (and that’s a whole other argument, let’s not go there today), but my health has never really been impacted to the point of regular doctor visits, or the need of carers to visit.  At the age of 36 there is no indication that Type 2 diabetes is just around the corner, I haven’t had asthma since pre 20’s, and the only visits I tend to make are linked with my mental health.

Is my mental health a direct result of my weight?  No.  I’ve been thin, I’ve been fatter.  And depressive episodes have struck throughout my life, regardless of my size.

But there is a very real link between my weight and my mental health.  When I am depressed, my level of self care is diminished.  I don’t care about what I eat so much, I drink more alcohol than is healthy, and I don’t exercise much.  Weight goes on, and then I feel bad about myself and my lack of control, my inability to resist temptation, bla bla bla.

But being aware of how my mental health is affected by my weight, I do try now, harder than ever, to stay on top of things even when my depression is bad.  The never ending blade along which I teeter through depression is a sharp painful one.  Fall one way and I might gain lots of weight.  Fall the other and I will become so obsessive that my disordered eating flares up and my self esteem buries deeper and deeper beneath my feet.

When I saw the mental health nurse some weeks ago, we covered my weight issues, and she mentioned that prior to losing 3 stone I would have been able to get a 12 week Slimming World pass if I had wanted.  But the thought never crossed my mind at the time.  I wanted to do something about it myself, and so I went along to Weight Watchers.  She also mentioned the gym and how I might be able to get a pass, or a substantial reduction in membership costs, and I said I had found a gym with fairly cheap membership and was quite happy to pay the £19:99 a month.

But it did open my eyes to what is available for people who do want to address their physical health.  And it’s all diets and fitness.  Which makes sense with the whole “Eat Less Move More” mentality that thrives in this day and age.  Is there talk therapy for people who aren’t happy with their bodies and selves? Some sort of self esteem building therapy for people to want to get healthier? (and I don’t mean the half hour stuck on to the end of a Slimming World class).

There is the argument against gastric band surgery.

“But weight loss expert, Steve Miller, presenter of Sky’s Fat Families, disagreed.

He said the money could be ‘better spent on cancer care and terminal illness’.

Mr Miller told MailOnline that people who need to lose weight can do something of their own accord.

‘If we go down this path we will be paying for cosmetic surgery for people claiming their face is too saggy and it’s causing depression,’ he said.”

It is my belief that when someone is coming to the decision of Weight Loss surgery, it is often a very last resort.  It is not an easy option.  It is because the person feels they have exhausted every other avenue of attempting weight loss.

Doesn’t this indicate that something needs to change?  That diets are not the answer? That surely the time has come to try something new? Try one of the many other options out there to make changes that lead to over all health?

Now I’m not a medical expert by any means, but if the NHS were going to spend money on me to help me lose weight I would want it to be in a way that helps me improve my self esteem.  I would want to work out and work through the ways that brought me to a place where my weight was an issue, and food was more than fuel.  I would want to feel empowered and supported for making positive decisions that helped me towards physical goals that improved my life.

Beyond Chocolate offers The Psychology of Weight Loss for the more “academic” (thinking, questioning, interested in the how’s, why’s and where’s!) amongst us.

Thinking Slimmer offers their Slimpods for the lovers of meditation and hypnosis.

And there are hundreds of books that look into weight loss in a more in depth and interesting way, allowing us to think more critically about why diets don’t work but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world! Have your cake is one such book.

Or maybe you want to avoid thinking about food altogether and instead look to moving that wonderful body of yours? Here’s a possible place to start Too Fat to Run?

There are no quick fixes, but surely it would be worth the effort and the lower cost?  If it meant that I didn’t go on to require diabetes medicine, or treatment for some other weight related issue.

And better self esteem would mean that comments such as ‘If we go down this path we will be paying for cosmetic surgery for people claiming their face is too saggy and it’s causing depression,’ would roll off us like water off a duck’s back.    Because that comment shows a complete lack of respect for mental health and sufferers of poor body image.  And body image is an important thing to build up if we want to feel healthier, surely?  But then, what do we expect from that twunk.  Whilst I agree with his suggestion about trying hypnosis (as I linked above),  I would strongly urge the NHS to work with people who actually care about more than the money in their pocket as they prey on peoples’ insecurities.  And people who haven’t contradicted themselves completely with the suggestion that cancer is more important to treat than weight loss, when this last fortnight they’ve been telling people that fat leads to cancer!  Make your mind up, Miller!

So thank you, Doctor Christian for opening up the discussion, but can we try other ways first?

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