The 'super-obese' under-25s having gastric band surgery

Surgeons say cost of obesity crisis could bankrupt the NHS – but operations can save money

(Image credit: 2006 Getty Images)

Nearly 40 per cent of under-25s who have weight-loss surgery are classified as "super-obese", a new report has shown. The authors say it is a "reflection on society's failings" that many young people are so overweight.

One leading surgeon in the field said obesity threatens to bankrupt the NHS because of the high cost of treating diseases associated with being overweight, especially type 2 diabetes, the BBC says, but surgery can save money.

Richard Welbourn, who also chairs the National Bariatric Surgery Registry, which produced the report, said: "Severe and complex obesity is a lifelong condition associated with many major medical conditions, the cost of which threatens to bankrupt the NHS.

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"For severely obese people, medical therapy, lifestyle changes and attempts at dieting rarely succeed in maintaining long-term, clinically beneficial weight loss due to the hormonal effects of being obese.

"Our data shows that there is great benefit from bariatric surgery for all the diseases studied. In particular, the effect on diabetes has important implications for the NHS."

The new report looked at 18,283 bariatric operations done between 2010 and 2013, including gastric bands and gastric bypasses. The average patient was nearly twice the weight they should be for their height, with a body mass index of 48.8.

More than 70 per cent of those patients could not climb three flights of stairs without resting, classified as "functional impairment", says The Guardian. Five hundred and fifty patients were under 25 and another 62 were under 18.

The surgeons say there is good news: after treatment, more than half of patients were no longer functionally impaired and could climb three flights of stairs without a rest.

On average, one year after surgery, patients had lost 60 per cent of their excess weight, while a majority of those who had had type 2 diabetes no longer had the symptoms.

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