Weight loss surgery could help prevent tens of thousands of people from developing type 2 diabetes
Lead author of the report, Dr Ian Douglas, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “Obesity is one of the biggest health problems of our generation. Rates of cardiovascular disease, although slowly declining, are still alarmingly high while type 2 diabetes is on the rise, affecting 3.5 million people in Britain. Finding effective ways to tackle the obesity crisis is therefore a key public health strategy.
“Whilst effective prevention is clearly needed, our findings show that as well as helping patients substantially lose weight, bariatric surgery improves serious obesity-related illnesses as well as reducing the risk of developing them. People having weight-loss surgery were 70% less likely to have a heart attack, and those with type 2 diabetes were nine times more likely to see major improvements in their diabetes. We also found positive effects on angina and the debilitating condition obstructive sleep apnoea.”
The study also found which type of surgery might be most effective for losing weight – with an estimated average weight loss over four year of 38 kg/six stone for people with a gastric bypass, 31 kg/five stone for those who had a sleeve gastrectomy, and 20 kg/three stone for people with a gastric band.
Study co-author Professor Rachel Batterham, Head of the UCLH Bariatric Centre for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery and the UCL Centre for Obesity Research, said: “Bariatric surgery is safe and produces unrivalled health benefits that are life-changing for patients and cost-saving for the NHS. Unfortunately, less than 1% of the patients who could benefit from this surgery currently receive surgery. This represents a major missed opportunity in terms of improving health and economic savings. Action is now needed to remedy this situation.”
The researchers noted that the accuracy of these findings could be limited by the incomplete recording of some outcomes in primary care patient management records. They were also unable to look in detail at short-term adverse outcomes associated with bariatric surgery, but noted that nationally collected data suggests such complications are rare.
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