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Bariatric surgery could reduce NHS costs

A new audit from the National Bariatric Surgery Registry (NBSR), published today, has found that bariatric surgery could be used as an alternative and cost-effective treatment to prevent a number of obesity-related health problems, including Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes UK agrees that bariatric surgery could be used as an alternative treatment to help clinically obese people lose weight, but only if all other attempts to lose weight through diet and lifestyle have been unsuccessful and the person’s diabetes remains poorly controlled.

85 per cent of people with Type 2 diabetes saw an improvement

The audit looked at data from 8,710 operations carried out in the NHS and private sector. Information from 86 hospitals showed that a quarter of clinically obese patients had Type 2 diabetes by the time they reached surgery and almost two thirds had three or more associated conditions.

The audit showed that 85.5 per cent of people who had Type 2 diabetes prior to surgery had seen an improvement in their condition after a two-year period.

Surgery to only be used if all other attempts have failed

Professor Sir George Alberti, Diabetes UK Chairman, said: “Diabetes UK recommends people who are clinically obese should try to lose weight through diet and lifestyle changes in the first instance.

"However, we agree that bariatric surgery should be used as an alternative treatment to help people lose weight if all other attempts have been unsuccessful and their diabetes remains poorly controlled.

"If trends continue, 60 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women will be obese by 2050 and the majority will either have Type 2 diabetes or be at high risk. This frightening escalation will result in an estimated cost of £50 billion to the NHS.

"This audit provides evidence that bariatric surgery could be used as a cost-effective method for the NHS to treat obesity-related health problems such as Type 2 diabetes.

"All surgery carries risks, however, and psychological assessments before surgery are vital to ensure the person is aware of, and in the position to cope with, the life-changing effects it will bring. Bariatric surgery is not a cure for Type 2 diabetes, although it can result in a lengthy remission.

“Diabetes is a serious life-long condition and losing weight will help people to better manage their diabetes and reduce their risk of complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, blindness and amputation."

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