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The Ontario government will double the number of bariatric surgeries performed in the province this year, the Ministry of Health said Friday.
The number of surgical weight-loss procedures has jumped to 1,846 in 2010-11, according to officials, from 887 one year earlier.
That number will rise even further, to 2,085, in 2011-12.
Bariatric surgery, often referred to as stomach stapling, involves various methods of reconfiguring a patient's digestive system, resulting in significant weight loss. In general, bariatric surgery either reduces the size of the stomach through a technique known as "banding" or creates a new stomach, then reconnects it halfway down the small intestine -a technique known as gastric bypass.
Doctors say surgery is generally the best treatment for a vast number of the estimated 150,000 morbidly obese citizens in Ontario.
The province treats the surgery as a means of fighting a growing obesity epidemic and a key tool in its diabetes treatment strategy.
The provincial government began expanding bariatric procedures in 2007, when only 244 such operations were performed in Ontario.
The increase was designed to stem a growing tide of Ontario patients travelling on OHIP-funded trips to have the surgery performed in the U.S.
The procedure costs roughly $25,000 in the US., about twice what it costs in Ontario.
Health Minister Deb Matthews said the additional funding will save the province $45 million in 2010-11 and $21 million next year.
"We're helping Ontarians to lead healthier lives while saving taxpayers millions of dollars each year," she said in a statement. "High levels of obesity are leading to dramatic rises in serious chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and some cancers. The increased availability of bariatric services in Ontario means more people battling severe obesity can get the treatment they need right here at home."
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Thank you for your correspondence regarding the ministry’s Healthy Living campaign and your interest in addressing the issues that contribute to overweight and obesity.
We appreciate receiving your views and concerns. The ministry’s Healthy Living campaign is designed to raise awareness among parents that the choices they make around healthy eating and exercise have an effect on the health of the family.
As you know, unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lives adopted over the past two decades have led to soaring obesity rates. Today more than 50 per cent of Ontarians are overweight or obese.
We also appreciate receiving your e-mails regarding your personal efforts to address this important issue.
You will be interested to know that this ministry established the Healthy Communities Fund (HCF) to assist provincial and community organizations in delivering programs and projects that help prevent chronic diseases by addressing their many risk factors.
The HCF Grants Project Stream is a one-window approach to funding local organizations in delivering health promotion initiatives related to: physical activity, sport and recreation; healthy eating; tobacco use and exposure; injury prevention; substance and alcohol misuse; and mental health.
The ministry is now accepting HCF Grants Project Stream applications for 2011-2012 program funding. Applicants who wish to be considered must submit their application by February 14, 2011.
You can find out more about the HCF, including eligibility criteria and how to apply for funding, on the ministry’s website at www.mhp.gov.on.ca/en/healthy-communities/hcf/default.asp
Thank you again for sharing your views and concerns with the ministry.
Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport
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