Health insurer NIB has recorded a 69 per cent increase in the annual number of hospital admissions for obesity and weight loss since 2009, including almost 1000 in the 2016 calendar year.
The average obesity-related surgery costs about $10,000. In one instance last year the company paid out $39,000.
“We believe surgery should be the last resort due to the potential risks associated with hospitalisation,” chief executive Mark Fitzgibbon said.
“That’s why we help our customers to take ownership of their health and wellbeing before invasive medical intervention is required by providing access to preventative health programs such as Healthy Weight for Life.”
Four hundred NIB customers have graduated from the program, which provides personalised support plus meal replacement supplements to help them reach and maintain weight loss.
“At some point government must seriously consider a sugar tax to arrest the rate of weight related illness,” he said.