Hitting the reset button?

Considering Britain’s current obesity epidemic, it’s essential that healthcare providers focus on the facts of treatment options and cost effectiveness of these options. Current data clearly demonstrates that the option of weight loss surgery should be available on the NHS, free to those who most need it.

Ultimately weight-loss surgery is an economical alternative for the NHS, when considering the health problems associated with obesity. These health problems include high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and arthritis; ailments which exhaust more NHS resources over a person’s lifetime than a ‘one-off’ weight loss procedure. One of my patients suffered from obesity related type 2 diabetes and had been taking medication from the age of 15. At the age of 24 she decided to have gastric bypass surgery and she has not needed to take the medication since. She now has the regular blood sugar levels of a non-diabetic person. The remission of chronic health problems through weight loss surgery is often overlooked, and they are important considerations when examining the current pressure on the NHS as a result of the UK’s ever growing obesity epidemic.

Patients Responsibility?

Too many often health authorities treat morbid obesity as the patient’s responsibility, but it is clear that what is needed is a co-ordinated approach to deal with the problem. For most obese people weight loss surgery is the last and only resort. Many of the patients I see complain that there is nothing else available and nothing more they can do. They have tried almost every diet available without success, and weight loss surgery is the only option for them to become healthier and happier people. The development of intermediary treatment options remains an essential, but elusive goal.

Often I find that the patients I am treating have an issue with food that is ‘in built’, and it is an issue which has its origins from an early age. The issue has become one that unfortunately they can no longer control or manage on their own. They need the support of the NHS for the specialist care, and if necessary surgery to help them and, in essence, to hit the reset button.

Up to a third of our children are over-weight. Education is therefore the key. We need to go back to basics and educate people about the foods they are consuming and how to eat properly. When it comes to childhood obesity in the UK, there is a lost generation of children who are totally uneducated when it comes to what they eat. Simultaneously, children at this age are not getting the correct amount of exercise. Aside from sports lessons at school, these children have no need to exert themselves in any way. This age of convenience means that children are driven to school, play on computer games and have no drive or encouragement to get outside and run around. The NHS cannot afford to have another generation with no knowledge of food. If we ignore this problem, the obesity crisis we are facing will become even more severe.


New figures highlight that over a quarter of women and a fifth of men in the UK are obese. Britain’s obesity epidemic is at an all-time high. Unless the NHS recognise the need to actively address the  problem and acknowledge that we need investment in tackling obesity, we will see these figures rise significantly in five years’ time. As a result we will all be financially obligated to deal with the consequences of an even greater problem.

Specialist Care
Streamline Surgical, the specialist partnership I co-founded in 2006, which has now performed over 4,000 such operations, is dedicated to providing specialist metabolic and bariatric surgical care for NHS patients. In light of these recent figures we have developed The Sudbury Clinic, a specialist centre for both private and NHS bariatric patients. With thousands of weight loss operations carried out each year, The Sudbury Clinic will be at the forefront of the obesity crisis, paving the way for obesity treatment in the UK.

This type of clinic has long existed in the US in large numbers. The opening of The Sudbury Clinic signifies the UK’s acknowledgement of a new way to manage obesity.The clinic has been physically designed with bariatric patients in mind. The center offers a welcoming, safe and inclusive environment for patients. With specialist design features such as larger doorways and sofas that have been designed subtly, to ensure that those using the clinic receive the very best care.

Homely Environment
The clinic offers a homely environment dedicated to both NHS and private patients who are having, have had, or are considering bariatric surgery. We want our patients to feel that they have somewhere to go that is designed to make them feel comfortable, and can accommodate their needs in a subtle way. Centers like the Sudbury Clinic have long existed in America, and with the obesity epidemic in the UK growing rapidly, it is important that we offer a concrete support network for our patients.

Given the current obesity epidemic in the UK, and the pressures that puts on the NHS, I think that the demand for such clinics is likely to increase to a great extent.

About the Author

Shaw Somers is a specialist upper gastrointestinal and bariatric surgeon with Streamline Surgical. He has over 14 years of consultant experience. His surgical expertise has developed through an impressive caseload, and has evolved into specialised care of complex upper GI patients, including the management of bariatric-metabolic surgery. He co-hosts Channel 4’s The Food Hospital, a programme which examines the science behind using food as medicine.