Obesity expert raises concerns about allocation of weight loss surgery

Dr David Ashton, medical director of Healthier Weight, a leading provider of obesity surgery and procedures including non surgical balloons, claims that despite rising numbers of procedures on the NHS cited in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) today, “a substantial number of eligible candidates for surgery are missing out”. 

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) reported weight-loss procedures rose from 238 in 2000 to 2,543 in 2007, while between April 2000 and March 2008 6,953 operations took place. According to Dr Ashton, “best estimates suggest that of those eligible for NHS surgery, only 1 in 200 will actually be offered it”.

“Also, the way surgery is currently allocated”, said Ashton “is largely based on Body Mass Index (BMI).  BMI was developed in the 19th century and is much too crude an instrument to be used as the basis for decisions regarding potentially life-saving surgery in the 21st century.  BMI discriminates on the basis of age, gender and – especially ethnicity. The latter is of great importance because certain ethnic groups have a greater risk at lower BMI’s than Caucasian populations” 

"Bariatric surgery has increased exponentially in England in recent years," the report said. "In conjunction with the growing level of obesity, as patients become more aware of surgery as a viable treatment option, demand for surgery among morbidly obese patients increases."

Private company Healthier Weight based in London, Birmingham and Manchester is recognised as a pioneer of bariatric (obesity) surgery and has exclusive relationships with surgeons who have international reputations in the field of bariatric surgery. Dr Ashton has written guidelines on physical activity for the World Health Organisation and is contributing editor to the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. His latest publication is on the lack of evidence for preoperative psychological screening of the obese can be found in Obesity Journal.

Professor Franco Favretti works exclusively for Healthier Weight in the UK and is acknowledged as  defining  the surgical protocol for gastric band implantation, in particular the pars flaccida technique and was the first to place a gastric band through the belly button using SILS, a single incision technique leaving no visible scars.  Franco has also made contributions to other surgical procedures for the treatment of obesity, especially biliopancreatic diversion (BPD/DS) and the Bandinaro.

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Obesity expert raises concerns about allocation of weight loss surgery
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