Over the past ten years, the number of people opting for weight reduction surgeries in Australia has nearly become ten times more, though it costs thousands of dollars. About one in five adults in the continent though considered obese are not found to be taking to diet or exercise.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare said there were 1,700 cases of weight-loss surgery in 1999/2000, compared to 17,000 in 2007/08.

It was noted that more women undertook the surgery. They commonly had a laparoscopic adjustable gastric band fitted, through which the stomach is compressed and appetite reduced.

“There is quite a bit of information around that people rely on lifestyle factors to try and reduce their weight. They try to improve their diet or they try to increase physical activity… But it seems this data shows that more and more people are turning to weight-loss surgery as part of their attempts to lose weight,” Hargreaves said.

Australian Medical Association SA president Dr Andrew Lavender said surgery is the “last resort”. He explained, “They should have tried all other measures to lose weight before such a move (surgery) is recommended by medical professionals… It’s all about a balanced diet and exercise, but for some people this isn’t enough… We know gastric band reduction surgery is very safe and can be very effective, but it doesn't in itself deal with the obesity epidemic.”

According to Monash University Obesity and Diabetes Institute director Professor Michael Cowley there is no specific cure for obesity.

“People recognize that their obesity is a health condition; they’re seeking treatment for it, but there’s nothing in the way of treatments that work other than surgery…And so patients go from being a little bit overweight and they begin the long decline and eventually they get to the point where they’re so overweight they have to have surgery,” he said.

Professor Lynne Daniels from the Queensland University of Technology also added that surgery is neither the only option nor the ultimate cure.

“The cost would be completely prohibitive and there are also issues around side effects and quality of life… It’s not a population answer to this question. The population answers to this question are changing our lifestyle and it has to be done at numerous levels. We need better opportunities to be physically active. We need better opportunities to choose healthy foods,” she said.

In February last, researchers have observed more cases of juvenile gastric banding operations.