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London 2012: Future of Obesity Treatment

Surgical approach to obesity

Surgery is the only proven, effective, long-term treatment available
National standards and national provision required
Mike Larvin

Speaking on behalf of the Royal College of Surgeons, Mr Michael Larvin stated that bariatric surgeons are facing decades of operating on morbidly obese patients as surgery is the only effective, long-term treatment available and is proven safe, “safer in fact that gall bladder surgery,” he argued.

In his presentation, ‘The future of obesity treatment: how can we influence policy makers?’ Larvin revealed the huge disparities in bariatric surgery provision in the UK, with one Primary Care Trust (PCT) performing a single procedure whilst another performed 192, and one in ten PCTs ignoring National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines. “This is despite the National Bariatric Surgery Registry (published in March 2011) not only confirming the safety and effectiveness of surgery, but also that surgery resulted in the resolution of co-morbidities and cleared demonstrated that surgery was making a real difference to patient’s lives,” he explained.

“A real concern is localism, leaving it to local providers to decide provision with no overall national standards. We would not allow this to happen for cancer, so why would we allow this to happen for obesity?” said Larvin. “This could happen despite the evidence suggesting that over the next 20-30 years obesity-related deaths will reach those of cancer.”

In conclusion, he surmised that all stakeholders must lobby government to provide an effective long-term strategy to fight obesity because at the moment short-term savings were leading to long-term costs. 

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