Khoo Teck Puat Hospital studying effectiveness of bariatric surgery
Bariatric surgery helps woman, 37, overcome obesity
Madam Siti Fatimah Muhammad, 37, used to break out in a cold sweat and turn breathless just climbing a flight of stairs.
The teacher was mildly obese and diabetic.
Now she is able to walk briskly for 30 minutes regularly and row in a dragonboat after volunteering for bariatric surgery.
Usually performed on morbidly obese patients with a body mass index (BMI) above 32.5, it involves reducing the size of the patient's stomach. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women.
Madam Siti had it done at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH) last November as a participant in the first Asian study undertaken by the hospital's department of surgery and diabetes centre.
It compares the effectiveness of bariatric surgery and medical treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) patients with a BMI range of 27 to 32.
Before the surgery, Madam Siti weighed 86kg with a BMI of 30.8. She now weighs 64kg and her BMI is 25.6.
She has been mildly obese since she was a child.
The mother of two kids aged 11 and seven said: "I had always been in the Trim and Fit (TAF) programme in school. When we had our breaks, my friends would rush to eat while I exercised alone."
The TAF programme is a weight loss programme by the Ministry of Education that targets childhood obesity.
As she grew older, Madam Siti was embarrassed by her weight.
She said: "Commuters would give up their seats because they thought I was pregnant."
In 2008, she found out she was suffering from T2DM during her post-natal checkup at the hospital and had to be on long-term medication.
She had to take several pills and self-administer two insulin injections to her stomach daily.
She added: "I felt helpless and frustrated because of the bruises on my stomach."
It was physically and emotionally draining and after six years of medication, she felt she could no longer take the pain.
She also feared it may lead to health-related complications such as kidney failure, blindness and heart disease.
She said: "I didn't want to be a walking time-bomb."
Madam Siti decided to go for bariatric surgery after hearing about it from KTPH.
The hospital's study on obese diabetics started because there are more diabetics in Asia.
KTPH senior consultant, Dr Anton Cheng, 65, said the number of diabetic cases in Asia is expected to increase by 50 per cent over the next 20 years. He said the study would show if bariatric surgery can be performed on mildly obese and diabetic patients to improve their condition in the long run.
The three-year study would see a total of 40 subjects in two groups - one to undergo surgery, the other to take medication.
Dr Cheng said: "Patients (who undergo bariatric surgery) will not feel hungry easily and can only eat a handful at each meal."
However, there are some risks, such as infection and internal bleeding.
And if patients do not watch what they eat, they can put on weight.
Madam Siti said she can now exercise regularly, wear heels and fashionable clothes instead of "pregnant clothes"."I have regained my self-esteem and am so much happier than before.''
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital is looking for volunteers for the diabetes research study, which compares the effectiveness of bariatric surgery and medical treatment.
To take part, you must have had Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) for less than 10 years, be between 21 and 65 years old, and have a BMI of between 27 and 32.
You must be willing to have either the surgery or receive medical treatment
And you must not be pregnant or plan to get pregnant before March 2016.
What's your BMI?
MEASUREMENT: Miss Bernice Tan, 26, a research nurse, taking the height and weight for patient Madam Siti (right) at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital’s Weight Management Clinic.
Calculating your body mass index (BMI) would allow you to know your body fat and if you fall within the acceptable weight range.
The BMI is a measure of body fat derived from the height and weight of an individual.
BMI is calculated by taking an individual's body mass (in kg) divided by the square of the body height (in m).
For example, if a person weighs 60kg and is 1.7m tall, his BMI would be 60/(1.7 x 1.7) which is 20.8.
Those with a BMI below 18.5 are considered underweight. The acceptable BMI ranges between 18.5 and 25.
Those with a BMI of 25 to 30 are considered overweight, while those with a BMI of above 30 are considered obese.
Diabesity level set to go up
Obese diabetics, or diabesity, is a rampant problem and the number of people with the condition is projected to increase exponentially in the coming years.
The proportion of obese adults aged 18 to 69 years was 10.8 per cent in 2010, according to a National Health Survey conducted by the Ministry of Health. This was significantly higher than the obesity level of 6.9 per cent in 2004.
One in nine Singaporeans aged 18 to 69 years also contracted diabetes mellitus.
Obesity and diabetes can be caused by an unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity.
A combination of obesity and diabetes can be a chronic problem, which leads to death and disabilities through long-term health implications such as:
- Kidney Failure
- Coronary Heart Disease
- Cardiovascular Disease
Among the above, cardiovascular disease is a common health complication that patients with obesity and diabetes face, according to Dr Anton Cheng, 65, senior consultant at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.
By the numbers
10.8%: The proportion of obese adults aged 18 to 69 years was 10.8 per cent in 2010, according to a National Health Survey conducted by the Ministry of Health.