The mission of the Coalition is to initiate debates and develop solutions in the field of obesity treatment in CEE countries. The Coalition’s activities are also aimed at implementing long-term effective systems of patient care as well as bridging the gap between the West of Europe and CEE countries in terms of obesity treatment.
Obesity is the greatest public health care challenge and one of the most dangerous modern-age diseases in 21st century. According to the World Health Organisation, every year at least 2.8 million people die due to obesity-related complications. In Poland, as much as 64 per cent of men and 46 per cent of women suffer from obesity. In many European countries the prevalence of obesity has tripled since the 1980s, and the size of the affected population is growing at an alarming rate.
Obesity is a severe metabolic disease caused by disorders in the secretion of the hormones (predominantly ghrelin) responsible for informing the brain about hunger and satiety. Obesity can start at any point throughout one’s life and can affect anyone, regardless of their age, gender, education, IQ, social status or place of residence. Obesity also leads to many life- and health-threatening diseases including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, brain stroke or many types of cancer. People suffering from obesity also have to combat depression, stereotypes and lack of acceptance of the society.
Currently there is no medication that could work against the causes of obesity. Patients can only avail of supporting methods including pharmacological treatment, diet plans, physical exercise, slimming massage and body treatment. For persons with 2. and 3. degree of obesity (BMI <35 and <40) the only chance to regain health is surgical treatment i.e. bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery is the most effective method of treatment of obesity and its complications, including type 2 diabetes and hypertension. In 80-90 per cent of patients with severe obesity, bariatric surgery facilitates a lasting reduction of body weight, while conservative treatments i.e diets and lifestyle changes are only effective in 5% of the patients.
Compared with Western Europe, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are lagging behind when it comes to the treatment of obesity and health care services for obese patients. However, a significant majority of the region’s countries is trying to bridge the gap by implementing prevention programmes and innovative solutions in obesity treatment. Poland may serve as a role model for other countries in this area. Thanks to the recent changes introduced by the Ministry of Health i.e. the standardisation of access to bariatric surgery, Poland is now setting new standards by introducing systemic solutions to the obesity problem, and therefore can serve as an example to follow for other countries of the region.