It's impossible to cover the entire field of obesity in a little less than 28 minutes of radio. There are many back stories we wish we had time to explore.
As Dr. Arya Sharma said on latest episode of WCBA, there are a million Canadians who would qualify immediately for bariatric surgery. Yet only a couple of thousand actually get it.
There are many reasons for this. On the show, Dr. Daniel Birch, one of very few bariatric surgeons in Canada, talked about the reluctance of his colleagues to take up the specialty. Some see bariatric surgery as a more dubious calling than taking out gall bladders or colon cancers.
Maybe so. But there are other considerations as well. Some bariatric operations are covered by provincial health plans. For instance, gastric sleeve and gastric bypass are covered, but lap band surgery isn't.
That doesn't mean that lap band surgery isn't available in Canada. But it does mean that if your province doesn't pay for it, then the price comes out of your own pocket.
And here's a bit of "bariatric black art". Some surgeons like the fact that lap banding is not covered, because that fact means they can set the price at whatever the market will bear. That's a refrain I've heard again and again from physicians and surgeons who do procedures not covered by the provinces.
So, you probably don't pay for a gastric sleeve or a gastric bypass. But you do pay for a lap band. How much? Listen to an interview we did with Dr. Chris Cobourn, a bariatric surgeon who practices in Ontario. He's done more than 2000 lap band procedures. He believes that paying for surgery increases the chance that the patient will fully buy into the operation.
See if you agree.
And while we're at it, listen to more thoughts from obesity guru Dr. Arya Sharma