Recently, Australia became the first country in the APAC (Asia-Pacific) region to approve the use of the Gastric Band procedure for obese individuals with a Body Mass Index that is greater than 35, or those suffering from a condition that is obesity-related with a Body Mass Index that is over 30.

What this means is that adults who ‘fit’ somewhere on the obesity spectrum that have been unable to lose weight using conventional methods, such as exercise and dietary changes – even medication will be able to access this now-sanctioned program in an effort to tackle their own obesity.

About the FDA announcement

The Food and Drug Administration recently announced that it had approved the Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding procedure for individuals considered to be very obese (a BMI greater than 35) and moderately obese (a BMI greater than 30, but less than 35) but who suffer from one, or possibly multiple, weight-related conditions (such as diabetes). Those who fall into the latter category are eligible if they are unable to lose weight through conventional weight-loss techniques such as dietary and lifestyle changes.

The approval comes off the back of some robust research from the Centre for Obesity and Education that compared the effectiveness of Laparoscopic Gastric Banding against a non-surgical approach to losing weight. The study, a world first, was conducted at Monash University and the results were overwhelmingly in support of the surgical approach (an 87% reduction in body fat) compared to more conventional methods (21% reduction in body fat)

The findings also supported the surgical option as providing a better quality of life for the patient and a reduction in the likelihood of obesity-related health issues.

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. (9)

A second study, also conducted at the same research institute at Monash, highlighted that Laparoscopic Gastric Band surgery can reverse the risks of type II diabetes by as much as a factor of 5 over conventional changes in lifestyle. 10)

The study yielded results showing 20 per cent of [average] body weight loss with the gastric banding procedure compared to 1.4 per cent [average] body weight loss with conventional care for those suffering from diabetes. Results also revealed an 80 per cent improvement ‘to normal limit blood sugar’ (glucose) levels for the surgical procedure – significantly greater than the 20 per cent shown for standard diabetic care.

The surgical option also produced compelling results showing there was a reduction in diabetic medication and a greater reduction in associated health conditions (including the use of blood pressure-reducing and lipid-lowering medications). (10)

The Facts

  • Over 3.5 million Australians are considered obese.(1)
  • A quarter of Australian males (26%) and females (24%) are considered obese.(2)
  • Obesity has serious health implications and can lead to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke and even some cancers.(3,4,5)
  • Obesity can impact one’s health so severely, that is is considered to be a greater threat to smoking and alcohol abuse.(6)
  • At the current growth, estimations show that the amount of obese Australians will more than double to 7.2 million by 2025.(7)
  • In Australia last year, over 11,000 gastric band surgeries were performed.(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.