Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Australian adults are overweight or obese (ABS 2015).

Weight loss surgery may be considered for the treatment of Australians with a body mass index (BMI) over 40 or those with a BMI of 35 and conditions that may improve with weight loss (NHMRC 2013).

In 2014–15, there were about 22,700 weight loss surgery separations.

Weight loss surgery separations are hospitalisations that include 1 or more weight loss surgery procedures.

  • Over 79% of weight loss surgery separations involved a primary or initial procedure. The remainder were adjustments, revisions, removals and other procedures—for example, for adjustment or removal of devices.
  • There were 9.7 weight loss surgery separations per 10,000 population. Western Australia had the highest rate at 17.3.
  • The estimated total cost for the 2,700 weight loss surgery separations in public hospitals was almost $30.4 million.

In 2014–15:

  • Around 18,000 (79%) weight loss separations were for female patients and 4,800 for male patients.
  • Females aged 35–44 and males aged 45–54 had the highest number of separations.

In 2014–15:

  • There were more than 124,600 weight loss surgery-related procedures billed to Medicare—those provided in public and private hospitals and in non-hospital settings.
  • Total costs for the Medicare-billed procedures were about $62.8 million. About $25.7 million in benefits were paid by Medicare, and out-of-pocket costs for patients and/or health insurers were about $37.1 million.

Between 2005–06 and 2014–15:

  • Weight loss surgery separations increased from 9,300 to 22,700.
  • Separations increased 3.3 fold in public hospitals and 2.4 fold in private hospitals.
  • The majority of procedures (around 89%) were performed in private hospitals.