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NHS should carry out more gastric band surgery to help fight obesity and diabetes

The NHS has been urged to increase the numbers of patients receiving weight loss surgery to 50,000 a year, closer to the European average, to boost health and cut costs.

Picture credit: SPL

The NHS has been urged to increase the numbers of patients receiving weight loss surgery to 50,000 a year, closer to the European average, to boost health and cut costs.

Weight loss surgery – using a gastric band to reduce the size of the stomach or remove part of the stomach – has been shown to help patients reduce their weight by up to 35% in the first year. Obesity-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, are also reduced.

Bariatric consultant surgeon Richard Welbourn and colleagues say in a report that despite increased obesity levels, the number of operations carried out by the NHS has fallen. Between 2011/12 and 2014/15, procedures fell by 31%, from 8,794 to 6,032.

Despite the UK having the second highest obesity rate in Europe, it ranks 13th out of 17 European Union countries and sixth in the G8 countries for rates of surgery.

The authors cite barriers to surgery, including the fact that GPs cannot refer patients directly to surgical services, instead placing patients on a four-tier system to examine diet and weight control before they are assessed for surgery.

‘Given the severity of the problem, it seems urgent to consider the potential barriers to surgery,’ the authors said.

Reference

Welbourn et al (2016) Why the NHS should do more bariatric surgery; how much should we do? BMJ.

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