Under new plans from the British National Health Service (NHS), more than 800,000 additional people within the UK could be considered for gastric bands and other consumption restricting surgeries.
The changes come as NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, aims to help tackle the amount of people developing type 2 diabetes. As things currently stand, nearly 10% of the NHS’s budget is spent on diagnosing and treating both type 2 diabetes, a disease that is usually linked to being overweight, and other disorders related to it. It is hoped that by offering additional surgeries, that the NHS can stop serious problems associated with type 2 diabetes from developing.
Currently in the UK, in order to be considered for stomach reducing surgeries a person with type 2 diabetes had to have a BMI of 35. Under the new plans, this will be reduced to 30, allowing many more people to undergo assessment. NICE believe that by doing this it will give diabetics much more control over their condition, and greatly reduce the likelihood of serious illnesses that result from diabetes – thus saving the NHS money in the long run.
However, the charity Diabetes UK say surgery should be used as a last resort, as it can carry large risks and doesn’t address the underlying problem of over eating combined with little exercise. They are currently advocating a low-calorie diet as an alternative form of treatment, followed by long term weight management. According to Simon O’Neil, director of health intelligence and professional liaison for the charity, "If a very low-calorie diet can be used within routine GP care to bring about and maintain weight loss and type 2 diabetes remission, it could ultimately be of enormous benefit to millions of people living with the condition."
Although this may be preferable to surgery, the low calorie-diet is currently undergoing trials, and results are not expected to be published until 2018. What we can say, is that if these new plans are implemented by the NHS, it is going to put a lot of strain on an already overstretched system.
If anything, this news drives home the importance of prevention, and how it is vital to lead an active and balanced lifestyle. So get out there, get exercising and make sure you are always at the top of your game!