I have thought for as long as this surgery has been available for extreme obesity, that it can only do harm.
Maybe barbaric rather than bariatric surgery would be a more apt name. There is evidence to show that removing visceral fat (internal abdominal fat) reverses diabetes – and of course it would. This type of fat is injurious to health so removing it solves the problem right? Wrong! Remove the fat and change the diet yes, but people want quick fixes so that they don’t have to change their behaviour.I saw a programme about bariatric surgery a while ago and one of the patients just continued to eat pizza, but in frequent and smaller amounts!
Nature has given humans the correct gut for the correct diet, just as it has for cats, snakes, flies and lobsters. Our digestive systems for receiving and digesting food will be different (not substantially different from cats) but they are perfectly designed for the foods nature intended us to eat.
I have said this many times before – how on earth do wild animals know what to eat when they don’t have dieticians, nutritionists, books and the internet to refer to? I’m being facetious of course, but consider the point. The only wild animals (domesticated animals are fed by us and therefore have no choice in the matter) that appear to us fat are the ones that need to be for their lifestyle – nature intends it that way. How would a duck stay afloat without a good proportion of fat on its body? It would sink if it was all muscle. How do seals and whales stay warm if not for their fat stores?
Humans need a covering of fat for a variety of reasons, but the dangerous excess that we are now seeing is due to the wrong diet which can lead to many illnesses – type 2 diabetes being one of the most common. If the diet is corrected, the excess disappears as do the health dangers. It really is that simple. There may very occasionally a genetically inherited reason for obesity eg. Prada Willi syndrome.
As the only diets generally available to help obese people lose weight involve calorie restriction and therefore hunger, they are doomed to fail. Hunger will always win. So bariatric surgery was invented – and very lucrative it is too (as are the slimming, bariatric equipment and diabetes businesses). There are various operations available but all have the same aim – to reduce the stomach’s capacity for food. This is downright madness. People who became obese from eating the wrong foods usually have severe malnutrition – that is, low intake and blood levels of the essential nutrients for life. So when their stomachs are reduced to an egg-cup size, they simply cannot eat the correct quantity of the correct food needed to obtain sufficient nutrients. No doubt supplements are given, but they are not well absorbed. The long term (if there is a long-term) effects of this are yet to be seen. Sadly as this study shows, surgical intervention is very risky.
There is another way. Before this surgery is ever considered for obesity and diabetes, nutritional advice should be given and the diet overseen by a professional who truly knows what humans need and not what governments recommend.
Update July 2014. “An expansion of weight loss surgery in England is being proposed to tackle an epidemic of type 2 diabetes,” BBC News reports. Complete and utter disaster.