Healthy living * Weight loss

Obesity operations cut diabetes

Obesity surgery cost effective Effective in treating obesity related health conditions

Weight-loss surgery is a cost effective way to treat a range of obesity-related diseases, including type two diabetes, surgeons said

Figures from the National Bariatric Surgery Registry show an 85 per cent reduction in the number of patients with type two diabetes, two years after weight loss surgery.

Surgeons said the figures clearly demonstrate that obesity surgery is one of the most clinically effective, safe and also cost effective treatments available on the NHS.

The report includes data from 8710 weight loss operations carried out in the NHS and private sector, including gastric bypass and gastric band surgery. Most took place between April 2008 and March 2010.

Around 25 per cent of people living in the UK are now classified as obese. Obesity is linked to a range of serious health conditions including early death, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and type two diabetes.

To be considered for bariatric surgery, current NICE guidelines state that people need to have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, or have a BMI of 35 along with obesity associated diseases.

Figures from the report show that around two thirds of severely obese patients have three or more associated diseases by the time they reach surgery.

Of these, a third had high blood pressure; nearly a fifth had high cholesterol levels and more than a quarter had type two diabetes.

A year after surgery, patients lost nearly 60 per cent excess weight and showed improvement in obesity related diseases.

Two years after surgery, the audit found that 85 per cent of those who had diabetes showed no signs of disease.

People with long term diabetes - for more than ten years - took the longest to go into remission, suggesting that surgery is most effective if carried out in the earlier stages of disease.

Bariatric Surgeon Alberic Fiennes, Chair of the NBSR Data Committee, said: “This data shows that not only is UK bariatric surgery safe but it successfully treats a whole range of diseases, including the rapid resolution of diabetes, yet commissioners continue to ignore the facts.

"Prevention strategy alone has proved ineffective; there are at least two generations of morbidly obese patients who are now presenting with diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer for whom preventative measures are utterly irrelevant.

"The numbers are increasing – these people need to be treated.”

John Black, President of the Royal College of Surgeons said: “This audit provides unquestionable evidence that bariatric surgery is cost-effective when the billions of pounds spent in the NHS treating obesity related problems are taken into account.

"It is a false economy to cut funding for this type of surgery. Any short term savings are tiny compared with the real ongoing cost of treating obese patients.

"We call upon the Department of Health to promote bariatric surgery. A modest amount of immediate expenditure provides massive returns very quickly, and it makes economic as well as clinical sense.”

The National Bariatric Surgery Registry (NBSR) is a consortium of the Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons (ALS), the Association of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons (AUGIS) and the British Obesity and Metabolic Surgical Society (BOMSS).

This article was published on Wed 13 April 2011

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