Australia is considering government-funded lap-band surgery to curb rising rates of obesity, it was reported.
The plan would see taxpayers pick up the bill for the surgery, which involves attaching a band around the entrance to the stomach so patients feel full after eating only a little food, the Herald Sun newspaper reported.
AdvertisementIt said a parliamentary inquiry was set to back the move next week after hearing evidence that the surgery could help obese patients lose up to 60 percent of their body weight.
The plan would reduce the burden placed on the public health system through weight-related conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, the newspaper reported.
It said the plan was to make the surgery available to those who could not lose weight through any other method.
More than a third of Australia's 21 million strong population are estimated to be overweight or obese, according to recent figures.
International studies consistently rank Australia among the fattest countries in the world, with the nation's Baker Heart Institute in 2008 suggesting it faced a "fat bomb" outranking even that in the United States.
Emergency services have introduced special "mega-lift" ambulances in New South Wales state capable of handling patients weighing more than 180 kilograms (400 pounds).
Undertakers also say they are stocking massive coffins, while consumer authorities are considering upgrading standards on everything from toilets to child car booster seats so they can handle heavier loads.