More NHS weight-loss surgery referrals could cut type 2 diabetes in the UK
New guidance issued today by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has lowered the threshold at which patients should be considered for weight-loss surgery.
The new guidelines mean the NHS could triple the number of weight-loss surgeries carried out every year to help tackle obesity and reduce the £10 billion cost of caring for patients with diabetes, a health watchdog has said.
Commenting on the updated guidance, Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice, said: “As a nation we are getting heavier. The number of people classified as obese has nearly doubled over the last 20 years and continues to rise. Obesity is directly linked to type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and it affects people’s mental health. The financial implications of obesity are huge – 10% of the NHS budget is used to treat diabetes and its complications alone. It is a major issue, if not the major issue, for the health service in the coming years.”
More than a quarter of adults are now classified as obese and a further 42% of men and a third of women are classed as being overweight.
Dr Rachel Batterham, consultant at the University College London Hospital Trust (UCLH) and head of the Centre for Obesity Research at University College London (UCL), stated: “NICE already recommends that weight-loss surgery should be available as an option for people with a BMI (Body Mass Index) over 35, who have failed to lose weight through medical weight-loss programmes, if they have another medical condition that could be improved if they lost weight […] Type 2 diabetes is a chronic, disabling condition; it can lead to kidney disease, amputations and blindness.”
In theory, up to two million people could now be considered for the surgery, and the plan could lead to up to 15,000 people being operated on annually within a few years.
Dr Batterham added: “Bariatric surgery is not an easy option. It cannot be used alone. It must be accompanied with changes to diet, activity levels and lifestyle. There is an initial cost of around £6,000 in the short term, but preventing the long-term complications of diabetes is great for the individual and will save the NHS money.”
NICE was set up in 1999 as an independent body responsible for encouraging improvement and excellence in the health and social care system.