New report highlights use of bariatric surgery in health service

Bariatric (weight loss) surgery could offer “significant financial savings to the healthcare economy” according to a new report from the National Bariatric Surgery Registry (NBSR), which has shown that 108 men and 425 women aged under 25 have had surgery in the last three years.

The report, which has been covered across the national media, has found that nearly 40 per cent of the 18-25 year olds undergoing bariatric surgery were classed as ‘super obese’ with a Body Mass Index of 50 or higher. The NBSR’s research, which looked at 18,283 operations performed in 2010-2013, also found that three quarters of patients could not climb a flight of stairs prior to surgery but improved after surgery, with more than half of the patients studied able to manage three flights without resting and a decrease in the amount of time they spent recovering in hospital.

The Times has noted conflicting opinions from Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, and Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of NHS England, toward the increased use of bariatric surgery to treat obesity. Mr Stevens said last month that “it makes little sense” that the health service spends more on weight-loss surgery than it does on proven programmes to stop people becoming obese but Professor Keogh said that today’s report “clearly demonstrates that when required, bariatric surgery is effective and safe”.

The report again highlights the cost of obesity to the health service and debates around the way in which it might be addressed.