Why weight-loss surgery won’t ‘cure’ obesity

November 14, 2014 - News


Hundreds of under-25s in the UK are going under the knife to combat weight-loss according to a new study, but can having a gastric band fitted or a gastric bypass really combat obesity?

A new report from the National Bariatric Surgery Registery (NBSR) has revealed that 108 men and 462 women aged 24 or under had obesity operations between 2011 and 2013. The register revealed that 62 of those were under the age of 18.

The findings, part of a wider report that looked at 18,283 operations performed between 2010-2013, indicates that doctors are increasingly turning to surgery in a bid to halt the UK’s growing obesity epidemic.

But, at a cost of £7,000 a time to the NHS, is it really the solution to the problem?

“No,” says Dr Kelly Johnston, Head of Nutrition and Research at LighterLife. “True, gastric bypasses, gastric bands and sleeve gastrectomies will help you lose weight  – but they won’t change the way you think about food in the long-term.

“Having surgery doesn’t change your choice of food, although you are physically limited for a while to what you can eat.  As time goes by there are no guarantees that you’ll keep the weight off. This is not a long-term solution and until appropriate efforts have been made with both diet and lifestyle interventions, alongside appropriate behaviour change, this is just a drain on already limited NHS funds.”

The risks of surgery
While some may consider having bariatric surgery as the only answer to their weight troubles, it’s not the quick fix that it first appears. Like all surgery, it has risks, which include:

▪       Obese people are more likely to have problems waking up from the anaesthetic, and are also at greater risk of post-surgery respiratory problems and blood clots

▪       You can get an infection, suffer internal bleeding or one of your other organs, such as your liver, might be damaged.

▪       In the long term, other things might go wrong: a gastric band, for example, could slip or erode into the stomach. Although fatalities and major complications are rare, one in 20 patients having a gastric band suffers a problem that requires further surgery or deflation of the band.

“Why put yourself at risk when there are simpler, safer, proven methods of weight loss?” continues Dr Kelly. “Diet and lifestyle intervention should always be considered before surgery of which LighterLife’s VLCD and behavioural change programme addresses.”

On LighterLife you can lose weight quickly on its VLCD plan and at the same time learn new, more helpful thoughts and behaviours around food so that you don’t regain the weight in the future.

Added to this, significant weight loss will reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, osteoarthritis, infertility and some types of cancer.

“In short, you can achieve the same health benefits without resorting to surgery,” says Dr Kelly. “Plans like LighterLife, which offer rapid weight loss hand in hand with behavioural change programmes – exploring and tackling the reasons why you overeat – are, in my view, the only sustainable way to achieve life-long weight loss and management.”

To find out more about LighterLife’s plans visit our website.