Increase access to bariatric surgeries and medicines needed to tackle diabetes and obesity epidemic

8 September 2023

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians says that the Australian Government should
be increasing access to bariatric surgeries to help reduce rates of diabetes and obesity.

The College says that many patients are being forced to wait years to access bariatric
surgery and can’t afford to pay through the private system.

RACP President, Dr Jacqueline Small says “Prevention measures are very important, but
attention should also be given to improving access to treatments for people who are living
with obesity – these include things like bariatric surgery and effective medicines.

“The Federal Government should also increase the PBS subsidies for obesity and diabetes
medicines to ensure that treatment for these often linked conditions isn’t limited by individual

“In some cases, we’re even hearing about patients who are emptying their superannuation
funds just so they can get the surgery through the private system. It should not have to come
to this, when we know there are important health consequences if patients can’t access

“The more research we do on obesity, the more we learn about the environmental and
systemic factors that are causing high obesity rates in the population. It’s also clear that
there’s more we could be doing to bring the current rates of obesity down.”

The RACP has made a submission to the Federal Inquiry into Diabetes that calls on the
Government to:

• Increase funding for bariatric surgeries to support weight management in priority
populations with barriers to treatment access and prevent further chronic disease.

• Subsidised pathways to effective pharmacotherapies should be established so that
access is on equitable population health grounds, not individual affordability

• Early involvement of physicians in team-based care for patients at risk of
hospitalisation through use of innovative care pathways

• Introduce comprehensive national regulations to restrict marketing of unhealthy diets to children

• Fully fund the effective implementation of the National Preventive Health Strategy

• Mandate the Health Star Rating System (HSR) for all packaged foods to encourage
consumers to choose healthier options and motivate food manufacturers to
reformulate and develop healthier products.

• Implement a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks

“Society has stigmatised obesity as an individual problem for so long, which has led to a lack
of responsibility on the part of institutions to create healthy environments and provide
accessible care and treatment for people who live with overweight and obesity.

“While we must work on preventing type 2 diabetes and obesity, there are also effective
treatments that can significantly improve health outcomes for patients already affected by
these conditions. But they are still out of reach for so many people who can’t afford it.”

“The research shows that asking patients to improve their diet and exercise simply isn’t

“We need a new model of care for treating patients with obesity, and this includes a balance
of prevention measures and accessible, effective treatments. These treatments should be
better subsidised by the Government so that people who could greatly benefit from them
aren’t left out in the cold.”

The RACP’s submission into the Inquiry into Diabetes can be found here:


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