British doctors are the first in the world to fit a teenager with an implant that could help tackle childhood type 2 diabetes.
This comes after news that the number of weight loss operations performed on the NHS in England has risen by 12 per cent in a year.
Diabetes requires regular check-ups and medication
Diabetic Victoria Parr, aged 17, was fitted with the EndoBarrier at Southampton General Hospital. The EndoBarrier is a non-surgical device placed in the upper intestine via the mouth that reduces the need for medication to treat the condition and aids weight loss.
Diabetes is a chronic condition caused by too much glucose in the blood. Glucose is controlled by a hormone called insulin. Type 2 diabetes occurs when not enough insulin is produced by the body, or when a person becomes resistant to insulin.
Type 2 diabetes can run in families but is also associated with an inactive lifestyle and being overweight. The condition increases the risk of heart and kidney failure in the long term, and can lead to stroke, blindness and nerve damage.
The EndoBarrier is a small plastic sleeve that stays in the body for up to 12 months, acting as a barrier to prevent food being absorbed, and improving the resistance to insulin.
So far patients fitted with the EndoBarrier have achieved a weight loss of more than 20 per cent of their weight, whilst requiring less medication. It is performing as well as gastric band surgery at helping weight loss.
Dr Nikki Davis, a consultant paediatric endocrinologist, said: "This is potentially a major addition to the treatments currently available for severe type 2 diabetes and obesity in teenagers, and could help to address the progression of the condition and the early development of complications in an increasing number of cases among children and adolescents."
Increasing numbers of type 2 diabetes sufferers costs the NHS £9billion every year, a tenth of its budget. Barbara Young, Diabetes UK chief executive, said: "The rate of increase of diabetes is growing with huge human cost and cost to the NHS."
"We must reverse this trend if more people are not going to suffer unnecessarily and if diabetes is not going to bankrupt the NHS."
Whilst diabetes will not usually be covered by private medical insurance, health insurers will offer incentives to help their customers live a healthy lifestyle. This may include discounted gym memberships and rewards for buying fruit and vegetables.
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