Weight loss surgery is fast becoming the quick-fix route to over-coming obesity, all the while, racking up the cost of treating this totally preventable disease. In saying that, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advise, that the number of people having this treatment increase dramatically in order to cut the cost of treating those with type 2 diabetes- a currently astronomical bill that is costing the NHS a fortune. But what about good old fashioned diet and a healthy exercise regime to beat the problem? What are the preventative measures being put in place to accompany this high cost solution when there are little or no less invasive weight loss treatments on the market?

According to the statistics, only 6,500 people had bariatric surgery in 2009 and 2010, per annum, but up to 2,000,000 people could potentially be eligible for surgery according to the NHS watchdog. They also suggest that the surgery would be transformative in the area of Type 2 diabetes. According the head of bariatric services at University College London Hospital NHS Trust, Rachel Batterham, some of these operations not only decrease the size of the stomach, but also completely change the way the body deals with glucose.

She shares the phenomenal statistic that out of 4,000 patients who had a bariatric surgery performed for the treatment of diabetes, 65% were no longer on treatment for diabetes within 2 years. She also suggests that considering the cost of the drugs alone for the treatment of diabetes, the savings made would mean that within 2 to 3 years, the surgeries will have paid for themselves. One in every twenty people suffer from Type 2 diabetes and this figure is only set to increase in correlation with rising obesity rates. So, is this the right way to go?

There are many still touting the low calorie diet and exercise lifestyle but is it enough? There is great risk involved with any sort of invasive surgery and thousands upon thousands more patients will be facing this risk, potentially increasing the mortality rate from these surgeries. There is also the problem of prevention. If we don’t start a serious prevention program now, in the place of surgeries, when will the list of hospital admissions due to cardiac events, amputations and other diabetes related conditions, shorten, if ever? Will the answer always be surgery if this is implemented?

With the cost of making thousands, maybe millions, eligible for surgery, will there be any finance for the monitoring of obese people with diabetes who are at risk, but who want to opt for a healthy lifestyle approach primarily? It seems like quite a radical approach but with such a financial strain on cost, it seems to be the only option. Low calorie diets do work, but keeping the weight off and maintaining that sort of lifestyle is an uphill struggle for an obese person. When the weight comes back on, it’s even more difficult to shift next time around. This might be the only way for now, especially considering the lack of weight loss treatments available on the market. Until then, maybe a dramatic decision like this is the only way to go. 

More information can be accessed at the NICE website.