QLD government to fund diabetes weight-loss surgery

The Queensland Government will invest $5 million in bariatric surgery for up to 300 adults with type 2 diabetes, following a recommendation from the Queensland Clinical Senate.

The initiative is aimed at both improving health and reducing healthcare costs.

Queensland’s Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said people aged 18 to 65 with type 2 diabetes and obesity-related complications would be considered for the surgery.

“The medical evidence suggests that in this group it is possible in many cases to switch off the type 2 diabetes and transform the health of the patient,” Mr Dick said.

“Along with type 2 diabetes, obesity is linked to a number of other serious health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, sleep apnoea and certain cancers.”

Currently about 80% of bariatric surgery occurs in the private health sector.

Mr Dick said surgery was only an option when lifestyle interventions and medical treatments had failed.

“Prevention remains the best remedy for this major public health issue and we will continue to invest in education and behaviour change campaigns.

He said the costs associated with obesity in Queensland totalled about $11.5 billion in 2015.

Queensland Clinical Senate chair Dr David Rosengren said the initiative was a step in the right direction, but the surgery would only be used as a last resort.

“We know the safest and best option to obtain a healthy weight is through healthy eating and exercise, but for those who are not successful, and have severe obesity, this may be the best option,” he said.

“Studies have shown that bariatric surgery can deliver much improved diabetes control and even resolution of diabetes in many cases.”

AMA Queensland president Dr Bill Boyd said making bariatric surgery more accessible for the morbidly obese was consistent with their five-year Health Vision for the state.

“Obesity is a factor in many chronic illnesses and creates substantial long-term costs to the health system.

“People who are morbidly obese are often unable to lose weight without bariatric surgery; this investment will help take pressure off our healthcare system in the long term.”

Professor Louise Baur, obesity physician at the University of Sydney, told the limbic a whole range of strategies was required to tackle obesity and obesity-associated complications.

“There is clear evidence that bariatric surgery leads to improved health outcomes in adults with obesity and type 2 diabetes. So, bariatric surgery provision for such people is very important.”

“However, provision of bariatric surgery for people with obesity who are yet to develop diabetes is also very much needed!”

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