Lap-Band Surgery

For some severely or morbidly obese Canadians, lap-band surgery has been a big help. But now the company that makes the product wants the procedure to be made available more widely. And not everyone thinks that's a good idea.


Lap-Band Surgery - Carol Thomas

More than a million Canadians are classified as morbidly obese. That's roughly the entire population of Saskatchewan. As you may have have been hearing, the CBC has launched a project called Live Right Now ... an effort to inform and encourage healthier living.

For Carol Thomas that effort has meant lap band surgery. She was one of those one million morbidly obese Canadians. And last year, she went to a clinic in Washington State for lap band surgery. The procedure works like this: a band is inserted around your stomach ... cinching it so that you will feel full more quickly. That also makes it take longer to digest food, so you don't get hungry again as quickly. Then, over time, the tension on the band is adjusted by inflating it with saline to regulate your weight loss.

Right now, lap band surgery is approved in Canada and the United States for people who are classified as severely to morbidly obese ... that's a body mass index of more than 35. But Allergen -- the company that makes the band -- has asked Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make the procedure more widely available. And that has sparked a debate over the best way to combat obesity.

Before she had lap-band surgery a year ago, Carol Thomas weighed 291 pounds. She joined us from Victoria, B.C.

Lap-Band Surgery - Dennis Hong

Dennis Hong is a bariatric surgeon. He performs lap-band surgeries as well as other weight loss surgeries. He practices at St. Joseph's Healthcare Centre in Hamilton. And he also performs lap-band surgery at the privately-owned CIBO clinic in Toronto. He was in Guelph, Ontario.

Lap-Band Surgery - Arya Sharma

Arya Sharma has a different view on this issue. He is the Scientific Director of the Canadian Obesity Network, as well as the Chair of Obesity Research and Management at the University of Alberta. He's traveling in Germany this morning and we reached him in Berlin.

Related Link:

Last Word - Theo Fleury

As you've heard throughout the program this morning, the CBC has launched a new national project called Live Right Now. It's meant to encourage you to live a healthier life. CBC Radio, television and CBC on-line are all getting in on the act. And you can go to for more information.

This Friday, we're devoting our entire program to mental health issues. Steven Page will be our guest host. He's the former lead singer of the Barenaked Ladies and he has his own history of depression himself.

And on Friday, February 11th, our guest host will be former NHL hockey star Theo Fleury. He too has struggled with depression, after being sexually abused when he was young. He sought help and the experience left him with a greater appreciation for the connection between mental and physical health. Theo Fleury got the last word this morning.

Other segments from today's show:

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