NHS resorting to surgery to tackle obesity epidemic
The NHS is increasingly resorting to weight loss surgery to tackle Britain’s obesity epidemic.Britain’s men and women are amongst the fattest in Europe – with the number of gastric bypass operations rising six fold in just five years.
Ministers want to tackle the problem at source- but surgeons say weight loss surgery is extremely effective for treating the morbidly obese.
Between 2006-7 and 2011-12 the number of gastric bypass operations increased from 858 to 5,407, according to figures from the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre.
Over the same period the number of gastric band operations also increased, but at a slower rate, from 715 to 1,316.
A gastric bypass involves making the stomach much smaller and shortening the length of the small intestine. This makes it impossible to eat large meals and reduces absorption of nutrients.
It has become much more popular than gastric banding, which involves inserting an adjustable and removable band that limits the effective size of the stomach, but nothing else.
Surgeons said the increases indicated there was a large unmet need for weight loss (‘bariatric’) surgery, rather than any sizeable increase in the number of morbidly obese people since 2006.
Alberic Fiennes, president of the the British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society (BOMSS), said: “There are about 1.5 million such adults in the UK. They face premature death, disease and disability brought on as a direct result of their condition. These can be prevented, improved or eliminated by surgery.
“There is compelling evidence that weight loss surgery to treat the most severely affected is one of the most clinically effective, safe and cost effective treatments available.
American research indicates the morbidly obese could gain around three extra years of life from bariatric surgery. It also improves quality of life – besides weight loss – in some cases reversing patients’ Type 2 diabetes.
However, although there are national guidelines on who is eligible, some local health authorities refuse to adhere to them, leading to a postcode lottery of care.
Bariatric surgery is expensive – costing up to £14,000 a time – and there are too few qualified surgeons to meet demand. The NHS currently spends about £50 million on bariatric surgery.
Tags: diabetes, diets, Doctors, Heart Disease, obese, preventable crisis, Surgeons, weight loss