A study by Monash University in May 2011 found more than 1.7 million Australians were obese – having a body mass index (BMI) over 30.

Importantly, we now understand this is not because of a lifestyle choice or a personal weakness. Scientists have discovered several genes, which predispose someone to obesity – including the FTO, PCSK1 and ENPP1 genes. This finally explains why obesity often runs in families and why, for the majority of sufferers, diet and exercise are simply ineffective.

It’s time to recognise that obesity is a medical problem and should be treated without guilt or prejudice. It’s why Illawarra Institute of Obesity Surgery specialise in appetite regulation treatments through Gastric Banding and Gastric Sleeve Procedures.


If the extra weight you are carrying gives you a Body Mass Index over 30, then from a medical perspective you have obesity. Click here to go back to the home page where you can check your BMI using our calculator on the right hand side of the page


Patients with obesity frequently report being hungry all the time, or need big meal portions to feel satisfied. Hunger is regulated by the Hypothalamus- the part of the brain that controls the body’s metabolic mechanisms.

It is thought that the hunger-regulating part of the hypothalamus does not function correctly in people with obesity- it continues to stimulate hunger and food desire all the time, even when your body has plenty of energy reserves. Perhaps it is like the low-fuel warning light in a car constantly flickering on even though you’ve just filled the tank. This is frequently genetic, and promotes both overeating and poor food choices, and over time leads to obesity.

Another important observation is that people who are constantly hungry often seem drawn toward foods that are rich in calories. Such foods are often high in sugar and fat, such as chocolate, fried foods, and sweets. Treatment is highly effective by using appetite control procedures such as either the gastric band or sleeve.


Comfort eating by turning to food to cope with stress, anxiety and low mood is very common. Chocolate, ice-cream, lollies and chips are usually used as they give a temporary ‘hit’.

Psychologists believe that we are programmed from birth to be soothed by food- we have all seen the way a baby stops crying when put on the breast. Sometimes a serious or traumatic life event may trigger a person to revert back to using food to help feel better. Of course we all know that this doesn’t really work logically, and often we might actually feel worse about ourselves after an episode of comfort eating. However emotions can be very powerful and at times control our actions.

Fortunately emotional eating can be overcome. At Illawarra Institute of Obesity Surgery, we treat patients with a combination of regular individual and group psychological counselling combined with physically limiting the amount of food that can be consumed during emotional episodes. Whatever the reason for one’s obesity, doctors all agree it must be treated because of the health risks associated with being dangerously overweight.