Watch: “Excess weight carried by the Maltese is costing €56 million every year” – cardiologist

Malta has the highest obesity rate in the European Union. This obesity is costing the Maltese and Gozitans some 65 million euro every year, according to cardiologist Dr Robert Xuereb who spoke about the problem of excess weight in the Maltese Islands during the ‘Insights’ programme.

Dr Xuereb stated that obesity is an illness. He explained that eight out of every ten Maltese in the 18 to 70 age group carry excess weight. Dr Xuereb added that these are alarming figures, and the problem of obesity in the Maltese Islands is going from bad to worse.

Dr Xuereb argued that fattening foods should be taxed, whereas healthy foods should be subsidised. In this way, two out of every five deaths can be avoided.

In Dr Xuereb’s words, the Maltese do not follow a Mediterranean diet, and although they work hard, exercise and sport don’t seem to be part of their culture. Dr Xuereb drew attention to the fact that the Maltese choose food outlets depending on portion size and on whether there is parking right in front of it.

The cardiologist explained that obesity is related to several other illnesses including heart attacks. Dr Xuereb added that the majority of deaths in Malta result from heart disease, An average of 400 persons die in Malta every year as a result of obesity.

Various countries worldwide have started taxing fattening foods, including Hungary which started doing this in 2011. In Denmark, on the other hand, this tax had to be removed after less than one year, as explained by dietician Ilona Pulis, because many were crossing the border to still buy this type of food. Mrs Pulis agreed with subsiding healthy food, saying the tax itself would not be enough to bring about a change in the country’s high rate of obesity, as had happened in Mexico.

Meanwhile, patients at Mater Dei with problems of excess weight are being given treatment by a multidisciplinary team. Replying to a Parliamentary Question by Nationalist MP Ivan Bartolo, Health Minister Chris Fearne explained that the hospital is offering health services through an endocrinology clinic, support by dieticians, psychological support as well as surgery through operations like Sleeve Gastrectomy and Gastric Bypass.

Dr Fearne added that arrangements are being made for more training and experience at a specialised centre abroad.

‘Insights’ broadcast the story of Christopher Spiteri who lost about 50 kg after weighing in at 165 kg 16 months ago. @Insights’ is broadcast on TVMNews+ every Tuesday at 6.30 p.m.

See also:

WATCH: “I was living in just one room..I managed to look at myself in the mirror after many months”