Experts want weight-loss surgery as standard diabetes care


Type 2 diabetes could be escaped by as many as 100,000 UK patients if offered weight-loss surgery.

World experts claim sustainable remission from the condition can be achieved through such operations, based on evidence gleaned from global clinical trials.

They believe their new guidelines represent one of the “biggest changes for diabetes care in modern times”.


Organisations including the American Diabetes Association and Diabetes UK have joined forces to form a coalition, promoting the validity of surgery as a cost-effective option.

The group says it should be recognised as standard, claiming that increasing the number of operations performed in the UK from 6,000 to 50,000 a year would bring it parity with other European countries.

They based their recommendations on the findings from 11 clinical trials, which suggest roughly half of patients experience a minimal 5-year remission from Type 2 diabetes after weight-loss surgery.

In the UK, experts estimate the cost of each operation to the NHS is around £5,000 - £6,000.

‘Very powerful treatment’

According to the experts, patients who undergo the operation are also able to far more effectively control their blood sugar levels than those who try to lose weight.

Professor of metabolic and bariatric surgery at King’s College 

London, Francesco Rubino, describes the potential of the treatment as “very powerful”.

The newly-published guidelines state that anyone with Type 2 diabetes and a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or over should be made eligible for surgery, regardless of blood sugar levels.

For those with a BMI of 30 or over, surgery should also be an option, providing their blood glucose levels cannot be effectively controlled through use of tablets, insulin or weight loss.

‘Changing the paradigm’

Co-author of the guidelines report is Professor George Alberti. He believes we have a “pandemic on our hands” and that globally, around 422 million people live with diabetes.

With the new proposals, he believes the group are “changing the paradigm”. He adds: “…we are not talking about the treatment of obesity, we’re talking about the treatment of diabetes”.

Prof Rubino described the surgery as "the closest thing to a cure" for the condition.

In the UK alone, Prof. Alberti believes there are at least 500,000 people out of an estimated 3.5 million total, who don’t even know they are sufferers.

The disease can lead to serious complications including eye and nerve damage, kidney failure, amputations, heart attacks and strokes.


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