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Surgery 'not a quick fix for obesity'

Slimming World | Slimming World

4 min read Partner content

Surgery may not be the best option for obese people, a leading slimming expert has warned.

Dr Jacquie Lavin, Slimming World Head of Nutrition and Research, was responding to today’s announcement that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is considering lowering the threshold for bariatric surgery for people who have been diagnosed with diabetes in the last 10 years.

Slimming World, the largest commercial weight loss organisation in the UK and Ireland, has warned that there is no quick fix to obesity.

"It’s important for people to realise that choosing surgery is not a light-hearted decision, nor is it the only option for people with a lot of weight to lose as data shows that, with the right support, diet and lifestyle changes can be extremely effective," Dr Lavin said.

"Weight-loss surgery may serve to heighten people’s feelings of failure and lack of control, as it puts the solution well and truly in someone else’s hands and leaves the individual bereft of the very support they needed in the first place.

"It’s not always the quick-fix people are hoping for and in fact we have seen an increasing number of people wanting our support, even after having gastric surgery.

"In our experience, empowering people to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as improving their diet and becoming more active, can have a huge impact on raising self-esteem and self-confidence by helping people to feel more in control of their own weight and health. Plus these behaviours can be passed on to the whole family, meaning that the next generation and the next grows up with healthy habits too."

NICE has announced it is updating its guideline on the identification, assessment and management of overweight and obesity.

It said since the original recommendations were published in 2006 there is more evidence available on the best ‘follow up’ care for people who have undergone weight loss surgery and the role of surgery for people recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. NIC said there is also more information on the effectiveness and safety of very-low-calorie diets including how they should be managed and maintaining weight loss.

Professor Mark Baker, Centre for Clinical Practice director, said: "Obesity rates have nearly doubled over the last 10 years and continue to rise, making obesity and overweight a major issue for the health service in the UK.

"NICE has already published a range of guidelines to help prevent and treat obesity; this draft guideline focusses on the clinical assessment and management. It clearly sets out what treatments should be offered to people with obesity and in what order. Since the publication of the existing guidance in 2006, more information has become available on how best to tackle the issue.

“Very-low-calorie diets have grown in popularity in recent years, so we now have more evidence to consider how well they work, if the weight loss can be sustained and the safety concerns, than we did in 2006. The new draft guidance now recommends that they should not be used routinely for people who are obese, only those who have who have a clinical need to lose weight quickly, such as before joint replacement surgery."

Dr Lavin said:

"By following a flexible and generous eating plan, getting encouragement to become more active and, importantly, receiving ongoing, regular support in their weekly group Slimming World members make behaviour changes that are easy to live with – and keep up – and are often shared by family and friends too.

"While everyone is different and in some cases surgery may be the right answer, perhaps in cases where life is at risk or a person truly believes they have tried every possible method to lose weight, many of our members tell us that the idea of having surgery terrified them and they’re delighted that they’ve been able to achieve the results they dreamed of without having to face it."

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