Mr Roger Ackroyd, President of BOMSS, has welcomed the findings of a major study which shows that bariatric surgery can help curb the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart attacks as well as aiding weight loss.
Research led by scientists from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine compared rates of obesity-associated illnesses in 3,882 weight-loss surgery patients with those who had not undergone the procedure.
They found that over three-and-a-half years, surgery significantly improved existing Type 2 diabetes and lowered high blood pressure.
Applying the findings to the 1.4million Britons believed to be morbidly obese, the study in the journal PLOS Medicine said surgery could prevent 80,000 cases of high blood pressure, 40,000 cases of type 2 diabetes and 5,000 heart attacks over four years.
Mr Ackroyd said: “We welcome the findings of this important study. It shows that bariatric surgery can be an effective treatment for diabetes and high blood pressure while also cutting the number of heart attacks, all of which have serious implications for people’s health and represent a heavy financial burden for the health service.”
It is the largest comprehensive investigation of bariatric surgery – spanning around four years in nearly 8,000 patients.
The researchers looked at 3,882 patients who underwent weight loss surgery and compared them with an identical number who did not have surgery.
Gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy and gastric banding were all included in the study – and all led to a significant and sustained weight loss of between 20kg and 48kg.
The weight stayed off which, in turn, significantly lowered people’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, angina and heart attacks.
All surgery carries risks, however, and so people should only be offered surgery if attempts to lose weight through healthy eating and physical activity have already been tried and not worked, they add.
Lead researcher Dr Ian Douglas, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “The results are really encouraging. Obviously we would love to help people lose weight in other ways, through exercise and healthy diets, but that’s difficult. Diets do not always work well for everyone.”