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Obesity is a growing epidemic in the Western world (no pun intended). In the US, 74% of men and 64% of women are either overweight or obese, with 36% of men and women clinically obese. In the UK, 20% of adults are overweight, and one in fifteen are clinically obese, with levels of obesity predicted to skyrocket by 73% in 20 years to 26 million people (or just less than half of the UK population).
Obesity puts a terrible strain on our bodies, increasing the risk of health conditions such as: heart disease, cancer, and Type 2 Diabetes.
How is Obesity linked to Type 2 Diabetes?
In short, no-one's one-hundred percent sure.
What is known is that being obese gives you an 80-85% greater chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
The biggest risk seems to be if you carry a lot of your weight around your abdomen. It's thought that this triggers a "pro-inflammatory" response, which makes your fat cells less sensitive to your body's own insulin. Excess fatty tissue is also thought to release fat molecules into the blood, making you less sensitive to your own insulin.
It has also been suggested that obesity causes prediabetes, a metabolic condition that almost always leads to diabetes.
But, your doctor has probably told you all that.
What if I told you there was a new, surgery-free gastric band that helped you lose weight, and helped your diabetes.
Well, that's why I'm here. But I don't believe it.
The treatment, currently being piloted in three centres in the UK, and available in many counties (although is limited to investigational use only in the USA at this current time), is called the EndoBarrier.
What is it?
A thin plastic sleeve constructed from Teflon-like material, which lines the first 60cm (two feet) of the small intestine, causing food to be absorbed further down the intestine. This alters the way food is absorbed, and may reduce your appetite by tricking your appetite hormones into telling your body that you feel full.
There's no incision. The tube is inserted orally, while the patient is under general anaesthesia. It is then passed through your stomach and fixed into place with a sprung metal anchor that prevents it slipping out.
How does it work?
The EndoBarrier prevents the body digesting food in the upper small intestine. This changes how your body reacts to food. It takes less food to feel full. They also affect your taste-buds, so you prefer savoury food to sweet. Finally, the EndoBarrier helps you manage blood glucose levels; many patients find they quickly return to a healthy range.
So it's like a gastric bypass?
Having an EndoBarrier fitted is similar to a gastric bypass, but is a much more viable option for many patients. It does not involve invasive surgery; it's safer (a conventional gastric bypass has a 30-day mortality rate of up to 1.1%). It can also be reversed at any time and is less expensive.