Bariatric and
General Surgeon

What is Obesity and Why Is It a Problem?

Obesity is on the rise in Australia, where our unhealthy lifestyles and diets are causing serious health problems. A person is considered obese if they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or over, calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height squared in metres (kg/m²). Approximately 3.4 million adults succumb to death every year for being obese or overweight. So how is this happening?

Nutrition surveys over the past 20 years have proven that we are consuming more calories today than we used to. In fact, Australian intake surveys found children increased their energy intake by over 200 calories per day between 1990 and 2010.

The latest global estimates indicate that an additional 1.2 billion people will be overweight or obese by 2030, with the greatest proportion of those new qualifiers being residents of the UK, USA or Australia.

Category Body Mass Index (kg/m2) Over Ideal Body Weight (%)
Underweight <18.5
Normal 18.5 – 24.9
Overweight 25.0 – 29.9
Obesity (class 1) 30 – 34.9 >20%
Severe obesity (class 2) 35 – 39.9 >100%
Severe obesity (class 3) 40 – 49.9
Superobesity >50 >250%

The reasons for obesity differ from person to person. At some stage, there is often an imbalance between calorie intake and physical exercise but also some medications or medical conditions may contribute to significant weight gain. Sciences show that genetics can play a role in obesity. Genes cause directly obesity in disorders such as Bardet-Biedl syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome. Also lifestyle can directly influence the genetic information (Epigenetic). Researchers found that obese mothers tend to have obese children but they have also shown that surgery to cause maternal weight loss is having a positive effect on reducing risk of obesity in the offspring. Nevertheless, while genes do not always predict future health, they can make it difficult to lose weight in the long term.

Obesity affects an individual’s health and wellbeing. There is a dramatic increase in developing type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, which leads to heart disease, stroke and pulmonary embolism. Obese people are also more likely to have depression, osteoarthritis and chronic back pain. Some research has linked obesity to certain cancers, including renal ovarian, bowel and pancreatic cancers, and – unsurprisingly – obesity is known to shorten life expectancy.

Obesity can also lead to hormonal imbalances which can impact fertility.

Should I Consider Weight Loss Surgery?


Generally speaking, weight loss surgery could be an option if you:

  • Have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 kg/m² or higher
  • Have a BMI of 35 kg/m² or higher and also have obesity-related diseases or health concerns (e.g. hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, sleep apnoea, depression).
  • Weight more than 45 kg above your ideal body weight (BMI 18-25kg/m²)
  • Have not been able to achieve a healthy body weight for a sustained period even though medically supervised dieting and exercise

A Team Approach


Maintaining weight loss is a long-term commitment. It requires ongoing support from a variety of health professionals as well as nutritional, exercise and behavioural changes. Dr Puhalla is passionate about bariatric procedures and believes in holistic patient management. He involves experienced dietitians and a weight loss psychologist to provide ongoing support before, during and after surgical procedures to give you the guidance you need to make your weight loss surgery a success.

Dr Harald Puhalla

Associate Professor of Surgery

If you’ve been struggling with your weight for some time, you’re not alone. More than 14 million Australians are obese or overweight, and obesity is now a global health concern.

Contact Us for more information on Bariatric Surgery

Take the first step by making an initial appointment with Dr Puhalla, who has decades of surgical experience. Understanding your full medical history will assist Dr Puhalla in providing you with a holistic treatment plan to help you reach your goals. Our friendly and caring team are more than happy to answer your questions and guide you through your weight loss journey. Your health is worth your focus!

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Bariatric Surgery

Dr Harald Puhalla is a General Surgeon with a private practice in Gold Coast Private Hospital and Pindara Private Hospital. For more information about the surgical procedures offered by Dr Puhalla, please contact us to arrange a consultation or phone (07) 5563 1360.

Consulting At

Gold Coast Private Hospital
Ground Floor, Suite 7
14 Hill Street
Southport, QLD 4215

Contact Info

Dr Harald Puhalla, PO Box 927,
Southport, QLD 4215

Phone: (07) 5563 1360
Fax: (07) 5563 1950
E-Mail: admin@generalsurgerygoldcoast.com.au

Disclaimer: This website contains general information only about medical conditions and treatments and does not replace a detailed medical or surgical consultation. The information provided is done so without any representation or warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied.

All medical and surgical procedures carry a risk and visitors to this website are advised to consult a registered medical practitioner for advice applicable to their individual requirements. Treatment outcomes and results may differ from person to person.