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Here’s One Way to Fight the Obesity Epidemic: Free Stomach Surgery

From the (U.K.) Times:

Up to a million obese people will be offered weight-loss surgery on the NHS, under controversial new guidelines.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has ruled that all obese people who have been given a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in the past decade should be considered for stomach bands and bypasses. …

Patient groups questioned how the health service would cope with the up-front cost, potentially running into billions of pounds, at a time when waiting lists for treatment have topped three million, the highest for six years. …

Weight-loss operations cost about £5,000 each, but Nice said that this had to be set against the 10 per cent of the £110 billion health budget being spent on treating diabetes and its complications, which can include blindness and amputations. …

However, Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: “There is a mismatch between what Nice says based on the clinical evidence and the fact that all of this has to be paid for in an NHS which is already in the red . . . It’s the next patient who desperately needs an operation that really feels it when the doctor says, ‘We’ve just spent our last pound’. Somebody is going to suffer somewhere.”In draft guidance to be published today, Nice said it would be cost-effective to consider weight-loss surgery to all obese people who have been given a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes within the past decade. The fattest patients should be automatically offered an assessment for surgery, while doctors must at least consider it for the rest, Nice says.

Simon O’Neill of Diabetes UK agreed that surgery could lead to “dramatic weight loss” but warned that it should not be seen as a cure or an easy option, urging patients to persist with eating better and exercising more.