Soaring overweight and obesity rates in Australia now exceed 60 per cent of adults and over 25 per cent of children. The war against weight has never been more critical as mediocre quality foods, convenience eating and portion control along with reduced activity levels mean new generations face a seemingly insurmountable challenge.
Desperate for quick fixes, billions of dollars a year are spent on crash diets, supplements, shakes and the most vulnerable and self-esteem trodden members of society will go to any length – including irreversible, sometimes risky surgery – to fight fat.
But what if we’ve been punching at shadows? What if the real enemy of long-term, sustainable weight loss isn’t based solely in will power, calorie control and exercise, but in science?
This scientific journey has been the lifetime commitment of Cairns-based Colorectal, Laparoscopic, Melanoma, Breast and General Surgeon Dr Gamal Mousa who is closer to this story than you might expect. Having battled obesity since his teenage years, he is now 51kg lighter and 48cm smaller around his waist (mostly achieved within a period of approximately 14 months) and has maintained this loss without fad diets, supplements or surgery.
In prior attempts to lose weight Dr Mousa wrestled with the ‘plateau’ phenomenon – he was able to lose weight in the short term, but it would level out and find its way back.
He recognised the error of ‘calorie counting’ alone which he described as a cruel hoax. If sustainable loss were solely about energy deficiency most obese people would be able to mathematically chew their way to skinny provided they consumed less calories than they burned. It doesn’t work that way long term. While this is a part of the solution the cause of the ‘plateau’ and why the body fights to regain its previous highpoint must be tackled.
The solution is our biology. Instead of seeing the body as a furnace with excess fuel to burn, focus on the hormones that regulate the energy storage and usage – the thermostat. As the body acquires energy through high-calorie foods, overeating and excessive portion sizes the thermostat recalibrates to a new ‘norm’ to process and store excess creating hormonal resistance. This is part of our caveman DNA to ensure we survive by storing energy in the absence of the next meal.
Imagine an air-conditioner thermostat is set to a warm temperature (25 degrees). A window is opened, and cooler air enters (15 degrees). The pre-set temperature of the thermostat (similar to hormonal resistance) will work against the drop-in temperature to bring it back to the pre-set point of 25 degrees.
In the body, any attempt to deprive it of this stored energy (often fat) sends the thermostat haywire. Dieting, calorie restriction and exercise burns fuel in the furnace, but the thermostat works voraciously to return the body back to its previous ‘norm’ and with interest for fear that the body will be deprived again.
Attacking the hormonal resistance and recalibrating the thermostat to a level that his body has not enjoyed since his teenage years has been Dr Mousa’s focus and the excess weight? It has gone.
In this process the ATOM (Autonomous Targeted Obesity Management) program was developed by him and applied to himself as the first guinea pig in January 2016 to regulate the thermostat and while the weight has disappeared there has been an inspirational and unexpected by-product. The high blood pressure, diabetes, back problems and cardiac issues that plagued his adult years have self-corrected. Now there is almost no clinical proof of their existence other than a 10-inch scar on his chest from a triple bypass suffered at the depths of his obesity battle. When asked how this makes him feel, he said: “I couldn’t feel any better now”.
So, is ATOM the magic solution? Could it make chronic obesity the ‘Polio’ of our generation and eradicate it? Dr Mousa is certain that no one solution is the panacea.
“We were all focussed on the contributing factors such as various diet types, lack of exercise, calorie counting and overeating, but until we addressed the causative factors (hormonal resistance), we were never going to win,” he said. “ATOM tackles this head on addressing what and how much to eat but, equally important, when to eat.”
Will the ATOM program replace his extensive Surgical and Endoscopic services established in Cairns over the last 22 years including his diagnostic and therapeutic Upper Endoscopy, Colonoscopy, Capsule Endoscopy and Double Balloon Enteroscopy – he is adamant “absolutely not”.
ATOM adds another string to an extensive bow of life-improving services.
Due to the program’s personalised nature he sees it as an imperative part of solving a much bigger social problem. Of all the scientific developments that he has seen in 40-plus years of professional practice, this has been one that has touched him directly. It has bought him another lifetime to continue the surgical work that has been his life and more time with his grandson.
A privilege not lost on him.
If you struggle with your weight or obesity, it is important to consult your GP. Access to the ATOM program is only available by referral from your doctor.
For more information go to atomweightloss.com.au
Dr Gamal Mousa M.B.B.Ch., L.R.C.P., M.R.C.S. F.R.A.C.S.
Specialist Consultant Surgeon and Gastrointestinal Endoscopist
Unit 6, Level 1 195 Abbott St. Cairns
Ph: 07 4031 0977
DR GAMAL MOUSA
My weight was an ongoing struggle
Just before my ATOM program started