New guidance from Britain's health watchdog has suggested that obese patients be offered free weight loss surgery on the NHS in a bid to tackle the nation's growing diabetes epidemic.
According to new guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), urgent action is needed to stem the tide of the type 2 diabetes diagnoses, and that could include drastic measures such as stomach stapling or gastric band surgery.
Obese patients, potentially numbering up to two million, who have recently been diagnosed with the condition could be offered the surgery - which could cost as much as £6,000 per op - for free. But campaigners say it is unfair that taxpayers should foot the bill to treat a condition that is often, though not exclusively, caused by an unhealthy lifestyle.
Defending the guidelines, Professor Mark Baker of NICE told the Daily Express: "The financial implications of obesity are huge - 10 per cent of the NHS budget is used to treat diabetes and its complications alone.
"This newly updated NICE guideline says that very low-calorie diets should only be used in certain circumstances; it includes new recommendations on weight loss surgery for people with type 2 diabetes and on follow-up after surgery."
However, Professor Iain Broom, director of the Centre for Obesity Research at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, questioned the merits of offering surgery.
He told the paper: "Theguidance could send tens of thousands of Britons towards unnecessary surgery, with its known morbidity and mortality,costing taxpayers many millions of pounds, when all that is required is a different dietary and lifestyle approach."
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