The baseball-loving Lu Tsung-hsien (呂宗憲), whose weight problem almost cost him his life and put him under the media spotlight last summer, was besieged by reporters again yesterday after losing more than 100kg.
Lu, accompanied by medical researcher Liu Bo-en (劉伯恩), announced that he lost 13kg in 14 days thanks to Liu's latest medical technique of measuring and controlling mineral elements in the human body.
In August of last year, Lu had to be helped by fire fighters and a crane to leave his Hsinchu apartment after becoming ill. He lost roughly 70kg under the care of the Mackay Memorial Hospital in Hsinchu.
Liu said his sampling of 1,028 patients showed that slimmer people have a higher percentage of "microminerals," such as zinc, iodine, copper, iron and selenium.
According to Liu, by testing a tuft of hair, it can be determined which kinds of minerals a person needs to consume more of to get rid of fat.
However, the method of hair testing and subsequent diagnosis -- if reliable -- is far from an affordable way to loose weight. The relevant technology is owned by a single beauty salon company in Taipei City, which charges NT$12,800 for a single diagnosis.
Although additional supplies of microminerals are included in the diagnosis fee, weight-loss results are not guaranteed.
Others contend that expensive weight-loss treatment is unnecessary. It is easy to forget that the causes of obesity have a social dimension, according to Chang Dao-ming (張道明).
"Apart from gene defects and special diseases, the change in people's lifestyles after the industrial revolution has contributed significantly to the sharp rise in obesity in our society," said Chang, from National Taiwan University Hospital's metabolism and endocrinology department.
According to him, highly nutritional ingredients in food partly explains why there has been a marked increased in obesity among the nation's children. "There is an alarming increase in the number of teenagers whose body mass index (BMI) exceeds 27, and these people may be in need of drug or surgical treatment,"Chang said.
If obesity reaches "pathological levels," medical fees will be partly covered by national health insurance. But this relies much on a doctor's professional judgment, according to Huang Sui-feng (黃穗芬), spokesperson for the Bureau of National Health Insurance.
Those who consult doctors to lose weight for non health-related reasons are not covered by health insurance. Nonetheless, since the factors contributing to obesity are numerous, it is difficult to achieve the desired results through a single treatment.
Lu, who now weighs about 170-175kg, said he hopes to one-day weigh 75kg. "The first thing I want to do after I lose more weight is to get a girlfriend," said Lu.
Aside from receiving Liu Bo-en's micromineral-based treatment, Lu also exercises and is on a diet.
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