In Spain, 22 out of 100 people suffer from obesity. And what is more worrying, it is already one of the countries in Europe with the highest childhood obesity.

The threat of obesity

Obesity is one of the preventable factors that most diminishes the quality of life and the second cause of preventable mortality after smoking, mainly due to increased cardiovascular risk, although it is not the only associated comorbidity. Obesity is also associated with an increased risk of diseases such as arterial hypertension, type 2 diabetes Y osteoarthritis; as well as developing some types of cancer such as breast, colon, pancreas and ovaries, among others.

In Spain, 22 out of 100 people are obese (BMI> 30 kg / m2) and 1 in 100 are morbidly obese (BMI> 40 kg / m2) ⁵. These data have not stopped increasing since records have been made and it is estimated that, by 2030, more than half of the European population will suffer from obesity. And what is more worrying, we are already one of the countries in Europe with higher rate of childhood obesity.

In recent months it has been seen that people who suffer from obesity are especially vulnerable before the Covid. “Obesity is a risk factor when the disease is contracted, there is a greater possibility of developing a serious condition that requires admission to the ICU or even death,” says Dr. Raquel Sánchez Santos, president of the Spanish Society of Surgery of the Obesity (DRY).

Obesity and Covid

A mayorsusceptibility to respiratory problems, inflammation, immunological and microbiome alterations are the consequences associated with obesity that contribute to the appearance of complications in Covid patients. Another key factor is the aforementioned associated diseases (diabetes, cancer and heart disease), which have also been shown to increase the risk of serious outcomes in people infected with coronavirus.

In addition, the saturation of hospitals by the pandemic has reduced interventions to treat obesity. “We have seen how bariatric surgery programs have practically stopped in 60% of hospitals between March and June. Some of us have managed to resume activity and maintain it for the rest of the year, but others have not been able to and these bariatric surgery programs have been greatly delayed ”, adds Dr. Sánchez.

People with obesity achieve greater weight loss when they speak with a medical professional and have follow-up appointments. On the other hand, bariatric surgery has proven to be the most effective treatment to achieve significant and sustained weight loss. in patients with morbid obesity. “For now there is no drug, or any treatment that is as effective as surgery, which makes almost 80% of patients lose the weight they need to improve their diseases and their quality of life,” says Dr. Sánchez .

The most effective solution

It is performed with minimally invasive surgery, with a few small incisions of a centimeter. “The risk is low, similar to that of an appendix removal operation. This low risk is achieved when the patient comes well prepared to the operating room, when he has been treated by a multidisciplinary team following the clinical pathways ”, adds Dr. Sánchez. Furthermore, compared to conventional non-surgical treatment in Spain, bariatric surgery is a cost-effective alternative in the treatment of morbid obesity in the short term, representing a more effective and cost-saving strategy in the medium long term.

As with other pathologiesIn recent months there are delays in treatment and support for people living with this disease. However, the current impact of obesity is due in part to the fact that the health system is not designed to meet the needs of these people, due to insufficient recognition that it is a disease and the stigma suffered by those who suffer from it, according to Medtronic, one of the largest companies in the world specialized in technology, services and medical solutions, in a statement released this Thursday, March 4, coinciding with World Obesity Day.

“From the SECO we have started to talk about joint strategies to promote prevention and to establish more fluid and rapid circuits for early diagnosis in health centers; of more efficient flows of referral of the severely obese to the hospital and also of increasing the offer of bariatric surgery ”, concludes Dr. Sánchez.