Australia was the first in the Asia-Pacific region to recently approve the gastric band for use in people with a BMI over 35 or a BMI greater than 30 with at least one serious, obesity-related condition.

For the first time, adults across the whole obesity spectrum who have failed conventional weight loss measures (diet, exercise and medication) can access this clinically effective, long-term, weight loss option.

About the FDA announcement

The FDA has approved the laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) procedure for people with a BMI greater than 35, or people with a BMI greater than 30 and at least one serious, obesity-related condition, and who are unable to lose weight through conventional weight loss methods.

Landmark Australian research contributed to the FDA’s approval of the gastric band for use in adults within the lower limits of obesity. A world-first study, conducted at the Centre for Obesity Research and Education (CORE) at Monash University, compared the effectiveness of LAGB to non-surgical treatment (diet, exercise and medication) in obese adults with a BMI between 30 and 35. The research found that LAGB resulted in a loss of 87 per cent in excess body weight, compared to 21 per cent with non-surgical treatment; a greater reduction in obesity-related health conditions for LAGB; greater improvements in quality of life across all measures with LAGB. (9)

A second Australian study also conducted at CORE, that formed part of the FDA submission, revealed that gastric banding surgery is five times more likely to reverse type 2 diabetes than simple lifestyle changes.(10)  The study revealed 20 per cent of average body weight loss with LAGB compared to 1.4 per cent average body weight loss with conventional diabetes care; an 80 per cent improvement to normal limit blood sugar (glucose) levels with LAGB, compared to 20 per cent with conventional diabetes care; a greater reduction in the use of diabetes medication with LAGB and a greater reduction in associated health conditions, including use of blood pressure and lipid lowering medications. (10)

The Facts

  • More than 3.5 million Australians are obese.(1)
  • Twenty-six per cent of males and 24 per cent of females are obese.(2)
  • Obesity can lead to serious health consequences, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke), high blood pressure, stroke and some cancers.(3,4,5)
  • Obesity can impede a person’s health so seriously that the disease is considered to be more damaging than smoking and alcohol abuse.(6)
  • If the prevalence of obesity continues to grow, it is estimated that 7.2 million Australians will be obese by 2025.(7)
  • More than 11,000 gastric banding procedures were performed in Australia last year.(8)


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Weight loss surgery in Australia. Cat. No. HSE 91
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008, National Health Survey 2007-08, Cat 4364.0.
  3. World Health Organisation (WHO) 2011. Obesity and Overweight. .
  4. Must A, et al. The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity. JAMA 1999; 282(16): 1523-1529.
  5. Bray G. Medical consequences of obesity. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 2004: 89(6); 2583-2589.
  6. Sturn, R. The Effects of Obesity, Smoking and Problem Drinking on Chronic Medical Problems and Health Care Costs,Health Affairs 2002. 21(2): 245-253.
  7. Access Economics 2008. The growing cost of obesity in 2008: Three years on.
  8. Medicare 2010 data.