A new study has shown that weight-loss surgery can have significant benefits for a wide range of health problems, including the risk of diabetes.
The research, led by a team at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, found the procedure can reduce the risk of heart attacks and type 2 diabetes. In addition, it could also improve already existing conditions.
Along with researchers from University College London and the Bariatric Centre for Weight Management and Metabolic Surgery, they looked at primary care records and compared patients' weight, BMI and obesity-related illnesses. More than 3,800 bariatric surgery individuals were included in the study, along with a sample of control patients who did not have surgery.
Doctors analysed the patients for around 3.5 years and applied their findings to the UK's population. The team estimated that if the 1.4 million people believed to be morbidly obese had bariatric surgery, it could prevent 80,000 cases of hypertension, 40,000 cases of type 2 diabetes, and 5,000 heart attacks in just four years.
Having weight-loss surgery was found to significantly improve existing type 2 diabetes and reduce abnormally high blood pressure. The team predict that it could help 110,000 people with type 2 diabetes and 13,000 people with hypertension significantly improve their condition.
Published in PLOS Medicine, the paper is the largest comprehensive study of longer-term outcomes post bariatric surgery in the UK.
Additionally, the study confirmed that the procedures stimulate dramatic and substantial weight loss which is sustained for at least four years, and suggested that gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy promote the most weight loss out of the different types of surgery.
Lead author Dr Ian Douglas, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, called obesity one of the biggest health problems of the current generation.
He said: "Rates of cardiovascular disease, although slowly declining, are still alarmingly high[,] while type 2 diabetes is on the rise, affecting 3.5 million people in Britain. Finding effective ways to tackle the obesity crisis is therefore a key public health strategy."
According to the study, people having weight-loss surgery were 70 per cent less likely to have a heart attack, and those with type 2 diabetes were nine times more likely to see major improvements in their diabetes.
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