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Tuck in your tummy

WEDNESDAY LIFE
By Irvin John. Jalango | June 24th 2015
LIFE MAGAZINE-FEATURE Dr. Lyudmila Shchukina during the Interview with the Standard at her office in 5th Avenue Suites,Ngon'g road,Nairobi. June 11th,2015. [Photo/Elvis Ogina/STANDARD]

Obesity is such a buzzword right now: TV shows are created everyday to help people slim. Statistics show that there is a very high increase in non-communicable diseases, especially diabetes and hypertension, which are on the rise and associated with obesity. Well, if your body mass index (BMI) is above 30, you may just have to shrink your stomach. Literally.

A process called bariatric surgery, which started thirty years ago in the US, has found its way into local hospitals. Dr Lyudmila Shchukina has been working in the medical and surgical weight loss arena in Kenya for over 15 years and observed an alarming increase in the prevalence of obesity among Kenyans. In association with other laparoscopic/bariatric surgeons, she actively participated in the development of bariatric surgery in Kenya.

According to Dr Shchukina, very few people know when they are obese and their solutions when they do figure it out, are usually to take to the gym or jog, which she says takes too long. Although obesity and extra weight have been on the rise, Africans just recently started fighting this problem. This is the major reason why there is little knowledge, recognition and acceptance of this problem in society.

“Other continents like America have been fighting obesity for more than 50 years, and Europe for over 30 years. Those countries are already using effective weight loss treatments, including bariatric surgery,” says Shchukina. “All the popular methods are not effective enough to lose weight to an optimal level and maintain that weight,” she adds.

The procedure, which she does at the East African Bariatric Clinic on Ngong’ Road’s 5th Avenue, is effective she says, and pain-free. Bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery) includes a variety of procedures performed on people who are obese. It involves an operation to help a person lose weight more effectively than dieting and sustain the weight loss in the long term.

“Successful weight loss surgery induces up to 30 - 70 per cent of excess weight loss over a two-year period, a goal that is unachievable by any other known methods. Weight loss is achieved by reducing the size of the stomach with a gastric band, through a gastric sleeve resection or by gastric bypass surgery, which is the most popular procedure in the world,” Dr Shchukina explains.

By reducing the size of the stomach, you get fuller faster, even while eating less.

One of her former patients who asked for anonymity, said he found himself getting full quicker. His BMI at the time of surgery was 32, meaning he was obese, but now it is at 27, meaning he is still slightly overweight. “After the surgery, I became disciplined. Since then I have lost a lot of weight,” he reveals.

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Shchukina says that she also works on the psychological aspects of overeating. According to her, food can be an addiction just like any other. “You only need a certain amount of food in a day, If you overeat, your stomach stretches,” she advises.

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