Weight loss surgery should be used to help fight the nation’s Type 2 diabetesepidemic, experts said yesterday.
They want the NHS to carry out up to 50,000 gastric band, sleeve or bypass operations each year to help the three million British patients affected by the disease.
Bariatric surgery is currently only used to treat obesity – but it should be offered even to those who are not morbidly obese as a standard treatment for Type 2 diabetes, specialists from around the world told respected journal Diabetes Care.
They hailed it as the biggest development in diabetes treatment since insulin was introduced a century ago.
Prof Francesco Rubino of King’s College London, one of those calling for the move, said it would only be offered after patients had tried diet and lifestyle changes as well as other therapies including insulin and sugar-controlling medication.
But he said: “It’s a very powerful treatment.”
The recommendation is based on trials showing that in most cases the surgery leads to an improvement in blood glucose levels.
About half of patients go into remission from diabetes for at least five years after weight loss surgery, trials found.
They also have far better blood sugar control than those who try to lose weight as a means of controlling their diabetes, Prof Rubino said.
The NHS spends £10billion a year managing diabetes, 80% of on complications such as blindness, amputations and stroke.
Diabetes UK called for yesterday’s recommendation to be incorporated into existing NICE guidelines for treating Type 2 diabetes so that everyone who fits the surgery criteria is assessed for treatment.
Simon O’Neill, of Diabetes UK, said: “There is a wide body of evidence that shows surgery is an effective treatment option for Type 2 diabetes and can be cost effective for the NHS.”